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How great leaders let their employees make mistakes

How great leaders let their employees make mistakes

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 30, 2013 9:09:27 AM / by Briana Songer

Briana Songer

The truth is, mistakes happen. Even after all your hard work at training, coaching and support, people will forget something, won't pay attention or may try something outside their current skill level and make a mistake. You as a leader have many important choices you can make when choosing to help an employee who does make one.The truth is, mistakes happen. Even after all your hard work at training, coaching and support, people will forget something, won't pay attention or may try something outside their current skill level and make a mistake. You as a leader have many important choices you can make when choosing to help an employee who does make one.
People learn from them

Great employees will dust themselves off and own their mistake so it doesn't happen again. It's only becomes a problem if the mistake is made over and over again. As a leader, if you see this happening, communicate with your employee and try to come up with a plan or other ways to deal with the situation and make sure it doesn't become a repeat problem.

The blame game

Most who make a mistake are already hard on themselves. Instead of shaming the employee, spend some time to help them identify how they can avoid making the same mistake in the future. As a leader, be realistic and look at the big picture of the mistake.

Take the pressure off

It's probably a bigger problem if you aren't seeing people making mistakes as they might be afraid to. Let them know they can. Studies show that people are less likely to make mistakes when they know they are allowed to. Let them know you're focused on developing abilities and learning skills instead. More mistakes are made when the employee has anxiety of ''winning over'' the boss and having to prove their abilities, especially if something new and difficult comes up.

When faced with a new challenge, you as a leader can help your employees feel more comfortable and increase their motivation to succeed Acknowledge that something is difficult, and that you understand they may need time to understand it. Let them know that you are there for help and that you are confident in their abilities to learn.

No micromanaging!

Resist the temptation to jump in every time an employee is having problems. You can monitor and coach...but unless they are doing something that will hurt themselves, the team, or is a repeated mistake, experience will usually be the best way for them to learn. Remember, you are there to help them, not to tell them what to do.

Some employees work best if they have constant positive feedback, while others are more motivated if they have a ''fear'' of a type of consequence. As a leader, its up to you to discover how to motivate and apply the pressure without seeming like a parent. Just be sure to praise in public, and discipline in private. While good employees make lots of mistakes, its the great ones that learn and don't repeat them.

''If you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything'' John Wooden.

People learn from them

Great employees will dust themselves off and own their mistake so it doesn't happen again. It's only becomes a problem if the mistake is made over and over again. As a leader, if you see this happening, communicate with your employee and try to come up with a plan or other ways to deal with the situation and make sure it doesn't become a repeat problem.

The blame game

Most who make a mistake are already hard on themselves. Instead of shaming the employee, spend some time to help them identify how they can avoid making the same mistake in the future. As a leader, be realistic and look at the big picture of the mistake.

Take the pressure off

It's probably a bigger problem if you aren't seeing people making mistakes as they might be afraid to. Let them know they can. Studies show that people are less likely to make mistakes when they know they are allowed to. Let them know you're focused on developing abilities and learning skills instead. More mistakes are made when the employee has anxiety of ''winning over'' the boss and having to prove their abilities, especially if something new and difficult comes up.

When faced with a new challenge, you as a leader can help your employees feel more comfortable and increase their motivation to succeed Acknowledge that something is difficult, and that you understand they may need time to understand it. Let them know that you are there for help and that you are confident in their abilities to learn.

No micromanaging!

Resist the temptation to jump in every time an employee is having problems. You can monitor and coach...but unless they are doing something that will hurt themselves, the team, or is a repeated mistake, experience will usually be the best way for them to learn. Remember, you are there to help them, not to tell them what to do.

Some employees work best if they have constant positive feedback, while others are more motivated if they have a ''fear'' of a type of consequence. As a leader, its up to you to discover how to motivate and apply the pressure without seeming like a parent. Just be sure to praise in public, and discipline in private. While good employees make lots of mistakes, its the great ones that learn and don't repeat them.

''If you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything'' John Wooden.

Topics: supervisor, tips

Briana Songer

Written by Briana Songer

Marketing Director at PlayVox

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