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Don’t hang ’em out to dry

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Errors can turn into disasters. Your job is to wipe the veneer of shame away from mistakes so employees can speak openly and learn from them.

Research by Dave Hofmann, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of North Carolina, shows that managing errors works best under two conditions:

1. Let the person with firsthand experience do the talking. “People who have made a mistake and suffered the consequences may make a much more compelling argument in terms of the importance of this issue for organizations than a leader who is distant, saying, ‘This is important—you should pay attention to it,’” Hofmann explains.

2. Create a safe zone.
“If someone reports an honest mistake, don’t hang them out to dry for it. Reward them for discussing it, so that they can help the organization recover from it before it creates a real negative problem in a much bigger sphere,” he says.

— Adapted from “Error management: A pre-emptive move that can reap long-term gains,” INSEAD Knowledge.

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