Effectively Handle Employee Mistakes

Making a mistake is one thing – how you deal with it is quite another. As a manager, effectively handling mistakes is crucial to success. When an employee makes an mistake, the line between over-correction and under-correction can be tricky. A recent TalentManagement.com article from Kevin J. Sensenig addresses this very issue.

There are often a set of routine steps managers take to deal with an employee’s mistake. Verbal reprimands, written reprimands or termination are typical, but does the employee get defensive or actually learn from the incident?

A more effective way to handle mistakes is to open a dialogue, build rapport, and restore the employee’s performance so he or she can be retained as a productive member of the organization.

Taking note of the actual magnitude of an employee’s error is important. Little mistakes can often be viewed as large errors – take a deep breath and recognize the scope of the problem. Excessive correction for minor mistakes is as erroneous as overlooking mistakes and making too little correction. In any case, the best policy for talent managers is to handle mistakes in a positive, productive manner. Always remember the nine R’s:

Research the situation: Gather information in an open-minded way rather than building a case. Clarify the facts; even the best employees make mistakes.

Create rapport: Rapport can be based on a reservoir of goodwill that already exists if the manager and employee have worked together closely for a while, or it may have to be created if they don’t know each other well. Building rapport does not mean taking the situation lightly, but rather setting a positive tone from the start.

Reference the mistake: Employees are not always clear as to why something was a mistake, so it’s important to explain exactly what went wrong without criticizing. Focus on the problem and don’t get personal.

Beyond the first three R’s, don’t forget Restore performance, Reassure the employee of his of her value to the team as well as the manager’s willingness to provide any support necessary, Retain the employee, Restate the situation, Reprimand, and Replace.

Improper handling of mistakes has negative effects on the whole workforce and an organization’s morale. Under-reaction leads to loss of enthusiasm and over-reaction leads to resistance from your employees. It is important to handle mistakes quickly, effectively, and consistently – and will lead to improved morale in your workforce. Quickly handling problems and mistakes will help you build credibility with your employees, and will build you a reputation for developing and improving employees.

Managers who handle mistakes with an improvement and development mindset can explore how the organization can train employees or develop better processes to prevent mistakes in the first place.

To read more about how to make better decisions about handling mistakes in your organization, click here for the full article.



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