How to Positively Respond When an Employee Makes a Mistake

In the workplace, the occasional mistake is bound to occur. At some point in your career, you’ve likely made a few. As a result, you shouldn’t be surprised when your employees make them.

However, along with not being startled by the misstep, you need to react positively to promote beneficial change. While lashing out or punishing the employee may make you feel better, it isn’t going to help your team thrive.

Fortunately, responding positively when an employee makes a mistake is relatively easy, and the results are impactful. If you want to put your worker on a growth path, here’s how to handle it when missteps occur.

Be Reassuring

First and foremost, be reassuring when an employee makes a mistake. Let them know that missteps aren’t the end of the world and that they can happen to anyone.

If an employee comes to you after discovering their own mistake, also express appreciation for them coming forward. Accountability should always be praised, as it increases the odds that they’ll use a similar approach should another mistake ever occur.

Use Active Listening

After identifying the mistake that happened, employ active listening techniques. Learn more about what occurred as the employee was handling the task, including steps they took, obstacles they navigated, decisions they made, and more.

Once the employee outlines the situation, paraphrase it to ensure you fully understand. Also, ask clarifying questions when appropriate, giving you the fullest possible picture of what happened.

Separate Behavior from Results

In some cases, a poor outcome isn’t inherently connected to a mistake. Instead, the employee used the proper approach, and the results still fell short. As a result, when you speak with the employee, view their behavior and the outcome as two separate entities.

By adopting that mindset, it helps you determine if there might be a flaw in an existing process. You can also figure out if the poor results occurred based solely on chance and not due to the employee’s efforts. In any case, this strategy makes it easier to determine which steps to take moving forward.

Focus on Solutions

Once you fully understand the situation, work with the employee to find solutions. Placing blame doesn’t resolve the issue, so it’s better to adopt a solution-oriented mindset right away.

Ask the employee thinks about how to fix the problem or what steps need to be taken to avoid a similar outcome in the future. Work with them to help them explore the options, using a coaching mindset over an instructional approach. By doing so, you turn the situation into a growth opportunity for your employee.

Follow-Up Appropriately

After your employee implements a solution, make sure you follow up. The goal here isn’t just to confirm the issue is now resolved, though that is critical. Instead, you want to examine how the employee handled fixing the problem, allowing you to offer positive feedback.

You’re reinforcing positive behavior by expressing your appreciation to the employee and noting the improved outcome. Plus, it shows your team that you value the continued effort to correct a negative result and appreciate their ongoing contributions, which boosts morale.

Post-fix feedback also puts employees’ minds at ease. It demonstrates that a signal misstep doesn’t tarnish how you view them as professionals, which is reassuring.

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If you’d like to learn more about how to respond to employee mistakes positively or need to expand your team as 2023 gets underway, Selectek wants to hear from you. Contact us today.