Sighs of relief were felt around offices everywhere when Google unveiled the unsend email function early this summer. Pulling back an email right before sending a big mistake can be a godsend. Unfortunately plenty of work mistakes happen without an ‘undo’ option available. Whether for the entry-level employee trying to make a name, the mid-level employee working for a promotion or the CEO with money on the line, mistakes are regrettably human and strike us all. How to deal with the mistakes that you and your team make is telling of what kind of leader you are.
Looking over shoulders, counting minutes and dipping your hands in every department, in every project, is not only terribly inefficient but strangling.
“Where micromanaging gets the knock is it gives the impression that you have one person doing everything, which couldn’t possibly be effective or efficient—it makes it sound like you have no trust or faith in your employees,” Ted Karkus, CEO of ProPhase Labs
Trying to save mistakes by micromanaging has adverse effects on your team and organization. 55% admit micromanaging decreases productivity and 68% says it decreases morale. Always stepping into clean the mess lays the groundwork for recurring mistakes. If the manager is always there to hold a guiding hand through, employee will never learn to handle when the terrain turns rough, on their own. Feeling the mistake and taking responsibility works as a hard-to-swallow learning moment. A short-term fix hinders the long-term development of each employee.
“Never stop learning. Whether you’re an entry level employee fresh out of college or a CEO, you don’t know it all. Admitting this is not a sign of weakness. The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.” – Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO—PepsiCo
The silver lining of all mistakes are lessons learned. Making mistakes, as hard as it may be, reinforces memory and learning as armor against future oversights. A Canadian study found that making mistakes prompts learning and retention:
“Making random guesses does not appear to benefit later memory for the right answer, but near-miss guesses act as stepping stones for retrieval of the correct information — and this benefit is seen in younger and older adults.”
Everyone is subject to missteps, but the learning that come from the experience are valuable memories for guaranteed proper procedure moving forward.
Admitting, owning and fixing mistakes – all tangents of mistake making – are not as important as never letting what happened, happen again. Good employees and good leaders will never let the mistake happen again. As a leader, ensure your employees understand what happened and why it happened. Take a look in the mirror to see if you as a manager and leader could have nipped the problem before it manifested. A Harris Interactive study revealed that only 20% of employees reported having a line of sight between their job and their employer’s goals. Nothing facilitates errors faster than a lack of communication — assumptions are made, judgements occur and mistakes develop. Pad your team with all the information to leave no room for errors.
Trying to get around the inevitable is not a battle worth having. Mistakes will continue to happen at every level of organizations. Tackling slipups as learning moments while keeping a cool head shows a trust that that will materialize into growth. Good leaders let their employees make mistakes, knowing the payoff will return greater employees. Take a step back, learn from the moment and move forward knowing it will never happen again.
“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” – George Bernard Shaw
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