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What happens when your Employees make Mistakes?

What happens when your Employees make Mistakes?

author: Lee Buttolph

My first job was as a Presales Engineer at a telecom company.  This was back in the late 90's when business software was less than ideal.  Our software was so convoluted and the training to fill it out so terrible that it set up new employees for failure.  They did have a software support center that you could call for help but they never seemed to "be there" when you needed them.

This begs the question:

  1. How hard do you work to train employees to do their job right the first time? and/or
  2. Do you make it comfortable for employees to make mistakes?

It got to the point with my job that the ONLY WAY to fill out the software form, which had to be filled out perfectly to be accepted, was to fill it out incorrectly.  This would generate an angry call from the support group about my gross incompetence (okay, not quite that bad but never a fun phone call).

Frankly, I didn't care.  This was the only way to truly learn the software.  I made a mistake and someone would call to tell me everything I did wrong.  It turned into the fasted way to get a phone call returned.

How do you handle employee mistakes?  I recommend turning them into positive training moments and opportunities to improve a process.  Remember, employees may be making those mistakes because they feel they have no alternative to get your attention.