Ask The Right Questions After An Error

Problem: Your staff has committed an error that will result in your team missing its goals.

Solution: Stand up and take responsibility for the mistake. That is the quickest way to gain your employees’ trust and respect—and their cooperation for correcting the problem. Placing blame and handing down punishments will deflate your team and discourage your people from taking risks and thinking outside of the box, and that limited way of working is costly to both productivity and your bottom line.

Instead, analyze the mistake to discover how you can prevent it going forward. When errors occur, follow these rules:

  • Avoid placing blame. Finger-pointing destroys trust. Ask “How can we fix this?” not “Who did this?”
  • Treat failure as a learning opportunity. Ask “What skills did we learn from this setback that we can begin using tomorrow?”
  • Examine your role. Did you communicate expectations or goals clearly enough? Ask “What help could I have given you that might have prevented this?”
  • Involve others in solving the problem. Ask “What do you think we should do?” Work with them to develop alternatives. If your staff members believe they have choices in determining how to proceed, they’ll rebound with enthusiasm.

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Delivered each month, Bud to Boss Take 5 offers you advice for resolving your most perplexing management problems. Even better: You need only 5 minutes to read each issue of the e-letter and find workable solutions that you can put to use immediately!

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