Addressing Employee Mistakes
We’ve all been there – we made a mistake at work and felt badly about it. Employee accountability, correction, and coaching are a tough topic, yet very necessary for any team focused on growing both team size and results.
A good leader understands that correcting and coaching employees is part of the job. A great leader recognizes that correction is not synonymous with being reprimanded and is certainly not about being chastised. In most instances, correction should be used to improve behavior, increase confidence, and build expertise.
Most employees want to be productive and succeed in the workplace. They need guidance and understanding rather than judgement without coaching. As a leader and manager, there are steps you can take to prevent future problems in the workplace and improve your management and leadership skills:
Get all sides to the story
Communicate without anger (tone and body language)
Avoid talking down to employees
Provide concrete examples of the behavior
Explain why the behavior is problematic
Use corrective measures, not emotional statements
Guide the employee through correctional steps
Finish with positive affirmation
While correcting your employees is never pleasant, it helps build a more efficient, functional workplace. Understanding how to implement constructive steps makes you a better manager and shows employees that you are invested in their success. Here is a good place to start:
Ask your employee what the situation was about and what was occurring at the moment the mistake was made.
Ask the employee to share why they believe the mistake was made and why it would be important to avoid making this mistake in the future.
Ask the employee what they could have done differently to avoid the situation, or what can be done to avoid the situation in the future.
Explore with the employee ways the employee, you (the leader), and other employees could prevent this issue from occurring in the future.
This kind of focused questioning allows the associate to reflect and acknowledge his or her mistake and to demonstrate learning. It also allows them to own the situation and become a part of the solution.
It will reinforce both your and the employee’s confidence in their abilities while also giving them the opportunity to point out any further problematic issues and help them make better decisions in the future.
Why don’t we all do this intuitively? Because, in the moment, we’re angry, and probably a little scared, frustrated, and disappointed. Our emotional overload in the situation is simply too much. Being overtaken by the emotion is not strong leadership and does not lead to great communication. When we lead and communicate, we’re not doing it for ourselves or for selfish reasons; we’re doing it to help others improve.
Emotional courage is the willingness to tolerate all feelings. It’s entirely attainable, and developing it increases your ability to lead effectively, get business results, communicate in a way that inspires others, and make the impact you’re trying to make.
If you’re a leader and you’re dissatisfied with someone’s performance, take a breath, identify the outcome you want, then circle back and start asking questions.
Wishing you comfort in difficult situations,
Source: Harvard Business Review