The Boss Wants to See You

And it’s not good. You know that feeling. For me it hasn’t changed since I did something wrong as a kid. The exact same dread. “If only I had or had not” is my most common reaction followed by promises that I swear I’ll keep if I can just get past this latest one.

You messed up. Made a mistake. In most cases it’s not as bad as what someone else did - but you got caught. And all that about mistakes being okay? “Making mistakes makes you even more valuable to the organization.” Yeah right. You keep your job, you get ahead by avoiding mistakes.

Enough getting sick to your stomach and updating your resume. Next time you make a mistake, go on the offensive. Advertise it. If at all possible communicate it before anyone else finds out. And then take on the error itself:

Quick Fix
Keep in mind the first rule of medicine, “Do no harm,” and then do what you have to in order to “keep the customer satisfied” or keep the problem from getting any worse.

Understand what really happened
Take a holistic view and make sure you consider all the touch points, associations and implications. Evaluate the options

Make the real fix:

Let everyone involved know what happened and why, and what you did about it.

Monitor for a while
In spite of the best efforts, some solutions don’t work out as planned - make sure the real fix keeps working

Going on the offensive with your mistakes will help you as well and start to change the organization’s culture about mistakes. But there is more you can do. Ask every candidate if they make “real” mistakes, what they are “bad at” and what they need to improve the most. If a candidate can’t openly admit that they’ve made mistakes and need to improve, you can’t be sure that they will be honest about mistakes they make or push the envelope as far as it can be pushed for fear of tearing it.

Mistakes shouldn’t be rewarded, but we must learn from them. The greatest triumphs in any endeavor were not because they were error free, but because of how the mistakes were handled. Make sure you have enough experience dealing with mistakes so that when you make a really big one, you’ll know how to deal with it.