Let’s face it, employees will screw up. But how we manage the situation can have greater importance and do more damage to your business than the actual mistake.

It has been my experience that most mistakes occur because the information or directions issued were not clear or detailed enough yet as managers we assumed they understood.

Too Little Information

In many situations, we’re so busy or stressed that we’ve issued just enough instructions to get the item delegated without considering whether they have ever done the task before or are clear about the end result. The employee on the other hand may not want to look foolish, or frustrate you any more by asking questions all in an effort help you out.

Of course, these mistakes only happen at the most inconvenient time that just adds to your stress or busyness. Although mistake will always happen, how can you reduce their frequency?

Create A Teaching Moment

Since screaming and yelling rarely works. The most effective way that I’ve found is that once the crisis has been averted, is to take a few minutes and create a teaching moment with the individual or team members. In a calm manner, explain what you had wanted, ask what information was lacking and then let them know what impact the error may have had on the company’s finances, reputation or product quality all without laying blame.

It has been my experience that once people understand the expected result and have been given clear instructions, the same mistakes rarely reoccur. The added bonus is that they begin to ask for clarification when necessary, but just remember, it all starts with you, not them.

I’m Greg Weatherdon and this has been your Small Business Minute.

Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2016

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