Made a Mistake? Here’s What to Do


Sooner or later, every person in a position of leadership is going to make a mistake, one that will also entail the obligation of an apology.  We’re only human.

It might involve a snafu on the job, some action that was taken or not taken, or something that was said that shouldn’t have been.  Once it has occurred, what then?

The first thing to do, according to Dorie Clark, New Hampshire communications director for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, is admit that you made a mistake.  If you are in charge of a business and something embarrassing has happened, you need to get it out in the open.  Without doing that, no one will be able to concentrate on business issues because they will be focusing on the mistake. Ignoring it may make you feel better, but it won’t make the problem go away.  Once you address the problem, you speed up the recovery.

Another thing that might help, according to Clark, is showing a little humor.  You have to be able to laugh at yourself.  You can’t take yourself too seriously.  If you do this, you let your workers know it’s all right for them to blow a little steam off that way, too.

Then, in order to get back on track, you need to refocus attention back on the task at hand and away from the gaffe.  You might want to take a different approach in addressing the problem, or get feedback from workers on how best to proceed.

The most important thing is maintaining the trust of your team.  If your error has disturbed that trust, the first order of business is to reestablish it.  If you or your business has made a mistake – it could be a new product that didn’t work out in the market, something you said that was inappropriate, or a public relations plan that went off track – there always will be some people who will be pitiless when you look for some sign of forgiveness.  You can’t worry about them.  What have to work to do is fix that trust with your team.

Errors happen, but communicating effectively can go a long way to repair the problem.

RealStreet Staffing can help Washington Metro construction, engineering and architecture firms meet and exceed their strategic staffing goals. Contact us today so that we may work with you to craft a staffing plan that will help your business grow and prosper.

The RealStreet folks are always helpful. They were instrumental in landing me a rewarding FEMA assignment in Southern California.

KC Green

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