Posts Tagged ‘workplace mistake’

Put Your Mistakes Under the Microscope to Improve Your Work

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer column, The View from HR.

We spend too little time celebrating our workplace mistakes. They deserve dissection, truth and reflection. Too often they receive denial, excuses and burial.

There is so much focus today on finding your strengths. Consider the common parenting advice to use only reinforcement in redirecting child behavior. There is even a movement to replace “weaknesses” in the time-tested business SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis because the word is too harsh!

This over-emphasis on positive is having a negative effect!

Mistakes are the mothers’ milk of change and growth. All the praise in the world (while it feels nice and has good effects) will not create needed change. Mistakes have the power to mold our thinking and our skills in ways that triumphs never will.

If you define mistakes broadly, and not just as small errors and omissions, they include bad habits and unproductive traits. Until you decide to understand and own your mistakes, the path to improvement remains hidden. Robert Frost wrote of the road less traveled. A truthful and open review of mistakes (big and small) is the less traveled, and shortest, road to real improvement.

Open discussion

Celebration of mistakes means applying the same passion to weaknesses as you bring to successes. Think of a person at work who takes their mistakes to the team or manager, and has responded well to criticism. Did your opinion of them go up or down? Did their impact at work improve or decrease?

Owning your mistakes and using them to grow makes good things happen.

Learning from mistakes is the most basic benefit of owning your mistakes. Only skeletons come from buried problems.

Trust develops between you and others if you are just as willing to discuss your problems as your strengths. Imagine what could be accomplished if everyone behaved this way!

Open discussion of mistakes and needed changes helps you work harder to improve. Think of it like telling your friends you stopped smoking.

Ownership of all behaviors, good and not-so-good, is the best way to demonstrate to others the treatment you expect in return.

Early recognition

Skilled managers know how to help employees make the most of mistakes while preserving a motivation to grow. Less-experienced managers need proactive help from the mistake-maker to maximize improvements. Every manager should be pleased and impressed if you bring your mistakes to them in the right spirit and with a plan of action.

Owning mistakes may include early recognition of a skills gap or a troublesome personality trait. Both can be improved if addressed early. Allowing a reputation for poor aptitude or attitude to harden can make success at any workplace difficult. This is an important discussion to have right now with your manager to get on a corrective path.

So many of us hide our mistakes that there is little danger of overdoing all this openness. Employees who acknowledge problems and work toward solutions get the best work opportunities. It starts with owning all your mistakes, big and small.

For additional guidance, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Okay, You Made a Mistake at Work. Now What?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Have you ever made an office gaffe? If yes, how did you react? Did you immediately come clean to your supervisor, apologizing for the error you committed? Or did you cower in your office, hoping no one would figure out it was your fault when “you know what” hit the fan.

Depending on your workplace environment, you and your team members’ reactions to mistakes could vary greatly. How does your company handle mistakes? Are people yelled at, punished or embarrassed? What comes after the mistake? Nothing, ambivalence or more rules? Well if any of those characteristics described your workplace, an evaluation of how you handle mistakes is appropriate.

Supporting team members when they make mistakes is helpful to all involved. When a mistake is not the end of your career, you’re able to learn lessons and more. Here are four benefits of owning up to your workplace blunders:

Avoid the Drama

Excuses, blame games and throwing people under the bus can ensue after a workplace mistake is discovered. However, if you cultivate a culture in which mistakes are permitted and you’re required to learn a lesson, a probable witch hunt will be thwarted because the culprit will feel comfortable coming clean. He won’t have to waste more time covering his tracks or creating alibis.

A Quicker Fix

The faster your team learns who’s responsible for the mistake, why the mistake was made and how the mistake will affect business, the quicker you can work to resolve any issues that are associated with it. Don’t let a workplace oversight take control of your organization. Encourage your team to be forthcoming with errors that will affect your business. Although it might cause an immediate small pain, in the long run, your business should be feeling fine.

Innovation and Efficiency Arise

Sometimes an employee mistake reveals the inefficiency of a workplace process that needs updating. Knowing where an assignment went wrong or how a deliverable was held up could foster innovation for preventing a similar occurrence from happening again. Challenge your employees to find a solution to a mistake first.

Number of Mistakes Decrease

The more stressed an employee is, the more mistakes he is likely to make. Being fearful of making an error only increases pressure on yourself and your employees. Letting them know that mistakes happen and a blunder is not the end of the world will help them shake away some stress, have clearer heads and perform at optimal levels for your organization.

For advice to encourage your team members to not be afraid to make or reveal a mistake, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Brett Jordan