Let's Talk About Mistakes

Teaching my daughter the wrong sequence of notes for guitar lessons. Mistake. Recycling the envelope with my credit card payment. Mistake. Ordering dessert and just about missing the beginning of The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie? Mistake. Ok maybe a little bit of design but 1 hour and 31 minutes of talking vegetables, can you blame me? Putting a wool sweater in the dryer. Mistake.

Everybody makes mistakes. What can you do when you make a mistake at work? Ask a Manager takes this question on and lays out a 4-step formula for proactively and professionally addressing mistakes at work: tell your boss what happened - immediately; take responsibility for the mistake; explain how it happened, and most importantly, explain how you plan to ensure it doesn't happen again. 

As a manager, what can you do when employees come to you with a mistake? You can listen. You can assess. If the mistake was the result of a gap in knowledge or of an outdated or poorly planned process, you can provide the knowledge or revise the process. You can read Dan's advice at Great Leadership's about Turning Mistakes into Development

Now, consider this. You train, you improve processes, you develop SOPs. You meet to discuss issues. You use mistakes as an opportunity to learn. Yet, in the presence this and of knowledge and experience, mistakes continue to occur. The mistakes you are seeing are not process mistakes. They are mistakes that reflect poor or incomplete thinking. 

Thinking mistakes, for me, are the most difficult to get a firm grasp on. But getting a firm grasp on thinking mistakes is something I must do because with each mistake, I watch our hard earned credibility slip away.