How to Handle Employees’ Mistakes

No matter how smoothly your business is being run, it isn’t immune to human error. Your business should always be changing, evolving and taking risks; but mistakes are bound to happen along the way. If something goes awry, it needs to be addressed, otherwise mistakes may be repeated. If things are done right the first time then less time is spent rectifying errors and fewer refunds and complaints mean better productivity and profit. So how do you help your employees learn from their mistakes?

Approach your team member privately

Public displays that shame employees rarely, if ever, serve a business well. The employee on the receiving end can feel humiliated and won’t be as receptive to constructive criticism. Also, public reprimanding can create a culture of fear that deters other employees from reporting their mistakes, potentially crippling your business in the future if errors go unreported for too long. Approaching employees privately about their mistakes shows respect and a genuine commitment to wanting to create positive change.

Be crystal clear

Once you have realised that an error has occurred, ensure that you have clarity on exactly what happened. Never let assumptions or bias cloud your judgement. Discuss it with the employee and ask them to confirm their understanding of the situation and then find a solution together to prevent the mistake happening again.

Plan ahead

Don’t just focus on the present; it’s important to plan for the future. Rules and policies can be put in place to prevent mistakes, while training can prevent others. Working with your employee is the best option to find a suitable solution for them and your business. It’s more conducive to plan ahead rather than relying on damage control.

Prepare a budget

It can cost money to rectify mistakes, so you need to set aside a budget to deal with this. That’s only one half of the financial impact of mistakes though; you also need to prepare a budget to prevent mistakes before they occur. This can be training, new software, or another cost relevant to the process that enabled the error to happen. Paying for your employees to better themselves can save you from costly or repeated mistakes in the future.

Be kind

Aggressive behaviour breeds resentment, as can negative reinforcement. Acknowledge the fact that everyone makes mistakes and place emphasis on your confidence in the employee’s future work. The best managers inspire their employees to want to perform well for the business. Positive encouragement will see a better return for the business.

Mistakes are an inevitable aspect of any business, but as long as you prepare accordingly, it shouldn’t cause undue stress. Approach employees with respect and understanding and remember the key is to work with your employees to nurture a positive ongoing relationship. A healthy working environment will encourage your employees to come to you sooner if an error occurs.

How do you deal with mistakes in the workplace? Tweet us at @kingstonsmith and join the conversation.