When was the last time you made a mistake at work or in a project? Did you accept responsibility and learn from it going forward or did you hope that no-one would notice and carried on as normal?
Many people will follow the pattern of ‘keep my head down’ and move on but in the long term this is not productive. Sport is a great example of how post-match analysis can help players and athletes understand how to improve going forward. Great care is taken in analysing and reviewing the opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and how this information can be used to continuously develop performance.
There is much that can be learned from the world of sport in this regard. Whether we’re talking about poor system implementation or mis-communication with a client, often at work we will look to blame a particular person when something has gone wrong. It is important to be accountable for the mistakes that you make, however, prevention is less to do with who is responsible and more to do with what we can learn from that mistake.
As managers the following can be more constructive in the aftermath of mistakes:
- Avoid a “blame” frenzy – It is good practice, as a manager, to regularly review work and projects allowing the team to identify what went well and what didn’t. However it is important to avoid such meetings turning into an opportunity to identify the culprit and/or victim as this does very little to help the organisation develop.
- Strengths as well as weaknesses – when a mistake/problem has occurred it is quite normal to seek out what didn’t work and then put together solutions for this. We encourage teams to also clearly identify what is working because if we don’t do this we can miss something that is positive that can then be leveraged and/or be transformed into best practice.
- Continuous improvement mode – successful teams are consistently looking for ways to improve. As a manager you can be proactive in encouraging staff to anticipate problems, in order to develop preventative actions that can then reduce the problems re-occurring. Regular meetings with good communication and clear outcomes will help. At the outset of every new project re-visit learning from previous work.
Prevention is better than the cure after all…