One of the few guarantees in the world of work is that mistakes happen.

You make them, your team makes them and even your boss makes them.

If we accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of being human and that we all make them, we can start to think about how best to manage them.

A sign of great workplace culture is that people can highlight their own mistakes without fear of reprisals.

How does your organisation’s workplace culture match up?

One of the first things to consider if a team makes a mistake is how clear is the job they are supposed to be doing?

As we say in our course Managing & Appraising Performance any job role is the responsibility of a minimum of two people, the one doing the task and the one who set it.

Did you explain the procedure with 100% clarity?

Did you check your employee truly understood the task before they started?

How did you ensure they have the correct level of training?

Have they got the correct tools for the job?

Do you have standard operating procedures in place?

You could be inadvertently setting your people up to fail by not laying the proper groundwork.

If you want to eliminate mistakes before they happen, you must invest the time upfront.

Ensure your people are 100% prepared and ready for their tasks.

The next thing to think about is your approach to dealing with mistakes when you have provided everything possible from your end.

We cannot hammer people for making a mistake. If your response is to always get angry with your team, then they will stop telling you when they have made errors which can lead to far greater issues.

You need to be strong on your standards but empathetic with your people.

This means you can’t compromise on your standards and that mistakes must be dealt with.

However, that process should be collaborative and positive. Focus on how you can jointly solve the issue instead of focusing on the mistake itself.

As a leader or manager you should strive to create an environment where people own their mistakes and focus on solutions rather than the error itself.

We need to make mistakes to learn and grow as employees and as people. So embrace them, just make sure you and your people are learning from them.


Written by David James - Leadership, Management and Commercial Skills Trainer