#114 – Dealing with Mistakes by Employees

My topic two weeks ago on “The Undercover Boss” brought a great reply from one of my colleagues, Gig Hitao, who described the approach he used with the employees of his market research firm. Gig wrote: “I had a great system to deal with errors. First, I provided extensive training. In addition, I told employees that if they made a mistake to let me know so that we could fix the problem and that I would never be angry with anyone for doing that. I also told them that if they tried to cover up a mistake, they would be fired. And I was true to my word. When an employee did something that went wrong and they told me, I always thanked them and we then immediately worked out a solution, so they felt good about the outcome. They would then adopt this attitude and really care that the job was done right, because they knew how important it was. Sometimes they would tell me about issues just to be sure they handled it in the right way. They knew they wouldn’t get in trouble if I wanted it done differently. Plus, I never had to fire anyone for covering up a mistake.”

Food for Thought ~

Gig’s comments provide a wonderful example of how mistakes can be converted into learning opportunities. It also illustrates the point that how the leader handles the situation can nurture good morale and employee engagement, both of which serve to actually minimize mistakes. Well done!

Question of the day ~

What is your style of dealing with mistakes by people you work with, whether employees or collaborators? Do you have a company “policy,” either implicit or explicit, regarding mistakes?

Gig also mentioned his approach to the other side of the coin, when someone did something especially well or put in extra effort. He gave them a cash “Extra Effort Bonus.” Thanks, Gig, for sharing your “Mistake Management Method.”