How when you create the basis of a high performing team do you deal with Your and your team’s mistakes?


The only certainty in a fast moving business is that we all  make mistakes at work every day and all the time; it stands to reason that if you delegate tasks out to your team hundreds or thousands people, you’ll get a huge multiple of mistakes back.

The volume of mistakes can make you wonder whether it’s really worth delegating things in the first place.  How you choose to deal with employee mistakes will either build or erode their trust in you and their capability at work, so it’s crucial to consider your approach to achieve immediate results and diffuse damaging levels of frustration.

Senior managers, are very capable of influencing others.  However, the vast majority employ aggressive influencing strategies instead of assertive ones.  In short the difference can be subtle but the outcome very different: aggressive strategies go for the person, assertive strategies go for the issue.

– An example of the aggressive response to an employee mistake is the leader criticising the employee for a lack of attention or commitment, and imposing a solution.

– An example of the assertive response is the leader getting to the facts about the mistake, and asking the employee how he or she will prevent it recurring in the future.

Both get results, but the assertive approach is superior because it gets results much faster while building trust and capability (whereas the aggressive approach gets results at the cost of trust and capability and creates dependency).

There are two principles of ancient wisdom that achieve radical and immediate results: forgiveness and repentance.

Forgiveness is the conscious act of letting go to avoid over time become angry and resentful (and therefore ineffective) leaders.  Remind yourself of their positive traits, that I myself make mistakes, and that I can’t expect anybody to be perfect.

Repentance is the act of changing one’s actions or behaviour to prevent recurrence of the mistake.  To achieve repentance we must learn what behaviour caused the mistake, and then commit to changing it, an modified assertive approach to problem solving.

Using forgiveness and repentance is good both to ensure you don’t become overwhelmed and for achieving an optimal response to employee and your own mistakes (which are inevitable).

Despite misconceptions about the basis of trust, these two tools the only immediate means to restore trust if you’ve overstepped the mark or missed a commitment.

Counter intuitive? Maybe.. but surely taking different action is more likely to create a different result.?

with best wishes,

Tom Pickering

Winner 2015 Global Turnaround Firm of the Year