How to Deal with Employees Mistakes

by robertr

February 4th, 2008

Dear Carnegie Coach:

I hired new employee to work for me earlier this month. He has tried to gain an understanding of the company and I greatly appreciate the effort he has put forth. The issue with the employee is that he has developed an early propensity to make mistakes. I have been told in the past that I do not handle my employee’s mistakes well, which has led to turnover within my department. Do you have any tips that will allow me to deal effectively handle situations where an employee of mine makes a mistake?



Dear Tom

As I’m sure you have heard over and over again, “Everyone makes mistakes”. The inevitability of these mistakes gives us a pressing need to handle them as effectively as possible. Here is an effective approach to use when dealing with someone’s mistakes.

  • Build Rapport- Begin by putting that person at ease, and try to reduce his or her anxiety. One way to do this is to begin with honest appreciation that is supported by evidence. Choose a behavior that you have observed instead of giving an empty compliment.
  • Relate to the Situation– Try to focus on the problem and not the person. You should give the person a chance to explain what happened and then let that person know what we know about the problem. By reducing defensiveness and not jumping to conclusions, the different perspectives will surface, and the root cause of the problem should be identified.
  • Restore performance- Make an effort to remedy the problem, this will reduce the chance of the mistake happening again, and help restore the person’s performance.
  • Reassure the team member-
    The employee needs to be reassured of his or her value and importance to the organization and of the manager’s support and encouragement. The employee should also understand that the manager is interested in and committed to the employee’s success and growth.
  • Remove the member from his or her role (when necessary) – Sometimes we find that the employee is not a good fit with a particular task, project, or department. We may need to explore what the employee’s strengths, interests, and goals are and search for a better fit within the company for a better match.
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