Recently one of my ops team made a boo-boo. It likely wasn't intentional, more of an operational glitch due to an over-looking incident. It wasn't wasn't picked up, so the mistake swelled to become a $600.00 boo-boo.
$600.00 is not a small amount, nor is it large. But it is still money, and money lost is still money lost. It's not the first nor will it be our last mistake, nut we take it in our stride. However, I take it as a learning curve, leading to the writing of this article.
Do You Own Your Mistakes?
As I was running through the process of managing the issue as well as communicating to the team to handle it, it made me think about how we handle mistakes.
I mean, we all make mistakes every now and then. It's nothing new.
If you're leading and managing people, or taking any types of risks, you're definitely going to make mistakes along the way.
As a leader, I am aware that those on my team will make mistakes. You know, mistakes are often our best teachers, as long as we take the effort to learn from them and not sweep them under the carpet. Mistakes will happen. Mistakes by themselves are not the problem, but usually how the mistake is handled is the crucial part.
How To Manage Mistakes
#1: Own Your Mistake
Whenever you or your team makes a mistake, or did something wrong, just take full responsibility for it. Don't make any excuse.
#2: Confess To It
It is vital that your higher ups and those affected by the mistake hear it from you first. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises and everyone appreciates a genuine and timely apology. You'd be surprise that your higher ups will and can stand genuinely with you when they are in the understanding. I can assuredly say to my team that no matter what, I stand and am with you.
#3: Fix It The Best You Can
Saying "Oops" and "Sorry" by itself is basic - you've got to take reconciliation steps. When you make a mistake, do all you can to learn from the mistake and then do what you need to do to make it right, the best you can. Sometimes, it may be just an apology. Sometimes it may mean that you've to re-order and spend more. Sometimes it may mean fore-going something that you've planned long for. Sometimes it may be embarrassing.
You know, it's interesting what happens when you face your mistakes head on:
#1: You Get More Trusted
When those around you know that they will not be unpleasantly surprised or caught off guard by the mistakes of you or your team, they will trust you. I know I will be taken cared of by your accountability. They will have observed you from past mistakes and understand that the future is in better hands because of what you've learned.
#2: You Become More Supported
Support always comes after trust. An example is if my team comes to me to complain about a particular problem, it becomes easy for them to lend me their support if I've a proven history of owning, confessing and righting my own mistakes before.
Plus, when another staff member sees a mistake, it becomes easy for them to think in the best when they've watched me own to my own mistakes in the past.
#3: You Will Be Given More Freedom
When you work with a team that is creative, passionate and takes risks, you know that mistakes will be made. One good result of mistakes is that you'd know one solution that didn't work, and you can cross that out for good =)
Are you looking for more freedom to take risks and try new things? Then show that you will face your mistakes in a positive, healthy manner and learn from them.
Oftentimes, as humans, it's hard for us to admit when we make a mistake, or when we are wrong. We'd rather spend our time and effort making excuses, covering up, defending ourselves and whatnot rather than doing what is required in the first place - owning it, confessing it and righting it. We think that if those around us don't find any faults with us then they will trust us more, support us more etc...but in actual fact, the opposite is true.
I'm taking it as a $600.00 training lesson for the team. I understand that as humans, we err and make mistakes. I can accept that. What's more important to me is how they respond to such mistakes, what they learn and take away from it, and how they resolve it and prevent such future mistakes.
What do you do once you realize you’ve made a mistake?
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