Learn from mistakes
21.01.2015 6743

Learn from mistakes

The culture of error is an important aspect of the functioning of the company. Concealment of miscalculations, the habit of cheating and shifting guilt drag the whole enterprise back. How can the right leadership position turn an employee’s mistake into a platform for a new start?Pabst Anna.jpg

Anya Pabst - Head of the Russian branch of BEITRAINING. Master of Sociology and Slavic Studies. Education "HR Manager", is a specialist in the field of crisis communication. He has experience working with people in study groups of various profiles both in Germany and abroad. Over the years, Anya Pabst has trained over 150 trainers. For more than 7 years, her professional activity is associated with work in the CIS countries - Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

BEITRAINING Is an international franchising company and a certified strategic partner of the German and Austrian Franchising Union on the topic of "Professional Development". He specializes in training and professional development in the field of management, trade, customer service and personal growth.


The effectiveness of any company, whether it is a chain of shopping centers on a national scale or a small retail store in a small town, begins with the right management policy. The attitude of an owner, a manager, or a general manager can affect an area as difficult to influence as the culture of error. “The head of the enterprise should not only manage himself - he should direct, support and delegate authority,” notes Anya Pabst, head of the Russian branch of BEITRAINING.

Competent distribution of responsibilities is one of the main tasks of management. Each manager is interested in the tasks being completed efficiently and on time. But the main attention should be paid not to the process of performing the task itself, but to the delegation of authority and the general organization of work. At the same time, the report on the completion of the task can be far from reality if employees are afraid to admit to their superiors in their mistakes, try to make excuses or shift the blame onto colleagues, suppliers, or various external factors.

Bad example - contagious

Often, the head of the company fears for his credibility, so he hardly admits his own mistakes. He is ready for a lot to save face before subordinates, partners and competitors and does not notice that the desire to hide mistakes does not strengthen, but undermines his authority. If he can openly admit his own miscalculations, this more often adds points to him in the eyes of his subordinates than takes them away. Employees trust the leader more, and in a similar situation it is easier for them to take responsibility and admit their mistakes to both the boss and colleagues, as well as jointly correct the situation.

Hiding mistakes is a dangerous practice in a company. Many of them can be corrected immediately after their occurrence, with almost no additional costs, but only if superiors or colleagues are informed correctly and on time. More often it happens that mistakes are ignored until the damage caused leads to obvious difficulties and financial problems. And the timely identification and elimination of errors is facilitated, first of all, by an open type of management - when the "tone" is set by the leadership, not afraid of their own and others' mistakes.

You can't admit lying

According to a survey conducted by Headhunter specialists in the fall of 2014, every second employee in Russia was forced to lie at work at least once, and the most inveterate “evaders” were sales workers. 67% of sellers have ever lied when executing. The second place belongs to management: from time to time, 65% of managers resort to lying to clients or their subordinates.

It is important that ordinary employees in more than half of the cases lie precisely to their superiors and only secondarily to colleagues or clients. The reasons for lying are completely different - from being late to failing to fulfill work duties and failing to meet project deadlines. In many ways, the reason for lying is the prevailing work culture, including the culture of attitude towards mistakes, as well as the fear of a fine or reprimand.

The habit of hiding errors has a twofold origin. On the one hand, as already mentioned, the atmosphere in the team is formed by the policy of management. “Much depends on the leader,” Anya Pabst is sure. “If he is open, not afraid to admit his own miscalculations and is not inclined to chastise for every misconduct, it helps employees to be more honest.” Another aspect is the features of the socialization of the employees themselves, the unspoken rules adopted in society.

If society as a whole, from school to retirement, practices collective responsibility for mistakes, people subconsciously seek to hide the flaws, rather than correct them. This “easy way” allows you not to leave your comfort zone: not to increase professionalism, not to take responsibility for decisions, not to learn from bad examples. This is also facilitated by the system of monetary penalties that is often used in retail, which ultimately brings much more losses than savings.

Make no mistake twice

A lucrative alternative to the penalty system is the reward system. For example, an employee who was not late for work during the reporting period, had no complaints from clients, etc. gets the maximum bonus to the standard earnings. Those who worked with flaws will have a smaller bonus. Many Western companies are pursuing a policy of punishing not for making a mistake, but for hiding it. People tend to make mistakes, but employees have absolutely no reason to make mistakes twice: if the error is known and corrected, it is less likely that another employee will make the same mistake.

If the mistake is followed by sanctions, the guilty employee may leave the company, and his successor is likely to stumble in the same place. A constructive attitude towards errors will allow us to discuss it with other members of the team and reduce the likelihood of its repetition. Such a policy helps to reduce staff turnover, staff involvement and the accumulation of experience.

A constructive attitude towards errors facilitates the proper delegation of authority. If a manager is afraid to entrust subordinates with important tasks, and they are afraid for them to take in fear to make a mistake and be punished, one does not have to talk about the development of the company or the motivation of its employees. Conversely, if an employee is not afraid to take responsibility and take the initiative, knowing that he has the right to make a mistake, he will be able to answer not only for the process, but also for the result. The ability to trust your employees is based, among other things, on the right attitude to your own and others' mistakes.

Ultimately, a competent chef turns into a mentor, inclined to discuss mistakes, instruct and praise for achievements. Trustful relationships in the team, support for initiatives and transparency of corporate processes turn errors into experience on the basis of which professional qualities can be improved. If an employee is mistaken, this does not mean that he is wrong. This means that he is doing something and in the end will come to the best solution.

The correct example of an attitude towards mistakes is the case of the great inventor Thomas Edison, beloved by business coaches, who, when asked how he found the strength to not give up and continue experiments after a thousand failures, replied that he had never had a single failure. He just learned a thousand ways, from what materials you don't need to make a light bulb. “If you don’t fire your gun, you will miss anyway,” says Anya Pabst. "Therefore, it is better to try and fail, and in the end you will gain experience, self-confidence and - success."

The culture of error is an important aspect of the functioning of the company. Concealment of miscalculations, the habit of cheating and shifting guilt drag the whole enterprise back. How is the right leadership position ...
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