Handling Mistakes
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Handling Mistakes - Moments of Opportunity

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Sooner or later, every employee makes a mistake.  Sometimes, the mistake is minor, but at other times it can be more significant and require both discipline and guidance.  These are "moments of opportunity" in which a savvy manager can either make a situation worse or -- through intelligent action -- exert a long-term positive influence on the employee AND produce smart, beneficial consequences for the employer. 

Sometimes mistakes are the result of inadequate training or lack of proper guidance.  .  If that's the case, then it's time to see if more training is needed or better guidance is warranted.  Sometimes what appears to be a mistake is really a lack of understanding, proper training, or sufficient guidance.

Even with big mistakes, a measured approach to dealing with them is often warranted.  Make sure the employee understands what the mistake is and that he/she understands that it ought not to recur.  Identify steps that need to be taken to prevent it from happening again.  Of course, company policy may require certain disciplinary steps. But, even when that action is required, an even-keeled approach can yield long-term benefits.

When discussing the mistake with the employee, aim to be firm, but keep voice and body language under control.  If you need to deliver a strong message, do so with the words you choose, rather than with high voice volume or angry body movements.

For a valued employee, the manner in which discipline is delivered is critical.  When discussing a mistake, it is important to clarify why it is a mistake and to avoid demeaning the person him or herself. 

Keep in mind that the way in which the employee is handled when mistakes occur will have a direct impact on his or her loyalty to the company.  Firmness together with respect is a combination that is likely to more motivational in the long run and to help prevent future mistakes.

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