All employees will eventually make a mistake. When a mistake is made, there will be consequences. However, your response to the situation, as a manager and a leader, take will dictate the actions the employees take.
Here are my top 7 tips to help you ensure that you are handling the situation in the most effective manner.
1) Analyze the situation
How big is the mistake? Is it one that should not have been made but can be rectified? Or did it cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars? In this case, both of these situations will have very different courses of action.
2) Understand the employee
Has this employee made a mistake like this in the past? Is this a habit or just a one-time problem? Taking to them about what happened and why it happened will give you helpful in-sight. Maybe they had a family emergency that put off their game or maybe they just have a poor work ethic.
3) Refer to the company culture if one has been established
We previously discussed the spectrum of consequences, or all the reactions that a manger can take. If someone has made a similar mistake in the past, how did other managers react?
4) Understand what type of leader you are and what you want to accomplish
Do you want your employees to be scared of you or do you want to encourage them and support their actions? Do you want to be their leader, their friend, or both?
5) Create a mental list of all your options and their impacts
You choose to ignore the mistake all together- but that might result in promoting incompetency. You can publicly call out the employee- but that might ruin their confidence. You can have a three-strike rule. You can discuss the situation with the employees. You can call a group meeting. Or a combination of all the options.
6) Pick the option that you feel the most confident about
Think what the impact will be and how you want your company to be seen. Make the decision that makes the most sense. Sometimes, it’s not always the best for the employee but it may be an action that needs to be taken for the good of the company.
7) Follow through on your actions
While it may be hard, do not vacillate on the implementation.
If your company’s current plan for handling mistakes is not one that encourages learning or growth, it might be time to update the strategy. Consider making an appointment with a business coach to see how changing the company culture could be beneficial. The process might require small changes or a complete overhaul of the current actions. A business coach would be able to tell you the steps to take and explain the overall effect it will have on the company.