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How to Handle Employee Mistakes

Written by Charlotte - 09 Aug 2018 Category: HR software

Picture the scene: one of your employees has just missed another important project deadline, causing you to go over budget and jeopardising future work. What do you do?

Picture the scene: one of your employees has just missed another important project deadline, causing you to go over budget and jeopardising future work. What do you do?

While it may be tempting to take an angry approach and reprimand erring employees, you’re likely to make things worse, says Don Rheem, a leadership expert and author. According to Rheem, adopting a fear-based approach to management when employees only perform their duties under threat of punishment is counterproductive, because humans are unable to work to their optimum level when the brain is preoccupied with fear and uncertainty. This distraction means that the more you punish employees, the more mistakes are likely to happen.

But with blown budgets, missed deadlines and angry clients, how do you hold employees accountable without resorting to fear-based tactics?

Making Employees Accountable

Accountability at work is essential. It goes beyond having someone to blame; it’s about delivering on commitment, taking responsibility for an outcome and using initiative with strategic follow-through. It’s at the heart of employee engagement, and conducive to creative problem solving and working to deadlines.

Building Accountability in The Workplace

We’ve summarised the key steps managers can take to help foster accountability within a positive work environment:

 

  1. Show Appreciation: Rheem recommends identifying something positive about the employee and their previous work before discussing their recent mistake. Often, employees feel that their manager only engages with them to pick up on something negative, so try and show your appreciation for their good work or attitude before addressing what went wrong.

  2. Set Clear Expectations: When speaking to the employee, make sure you are both clear on the outcomes you expect from their work. Tell them how you will measure success and suggest some of the strategies you expect them to use along the way. Tell them what support you can offer and agree to check-in with them on a weekly basis to discuss progress. At the end of the conversation, ask them to summarise what you’ve just discussed to check that you’re both on the same page.

  3. Be open and reframe the mistake: You want to let the employee know that their work has caused a problem but in such a way that avoids making them feel demoralised, inadequate, or blamed. Ask thoughtful questions to find out what went wrong and what they think they can learn from the mistake.

 

Mistakes are part of the human experience, so it’s inevitable that employees will make occasional errors at work. Using the steps outlined above, managers can hold employees accountable when things go wrong without having to resort to punitive action. Doing so will help boost working relationships and generate a more positive office environment.

 

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.

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CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere. 

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