Too Err is Human by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Mistakes are part of life. We all work to minimize our mistakes, but even so, these happen on a regular basis. All too often, we get far too focused on mistakes, and our focus tends to be in the wrong place. Learning to look at mistakes differently can help you to use your mistakes for growth. Consider these questions as you look at your own mistakes and those of your employees.

  1. Was it avoidable? If the mistake was avoidable, you may have a training issue. Take a look to see if you (or the employee making the mistake) has been thoroughly trained on how to perform the task at hand. If training isn’t the issue, look at whether the employee has too many tasks on their plate, or has a distraction that is impeding their ability to focus.
  1. Did it uncover something important? Sometimes mistakes lead to innovation. For example, the “post it” note that we all use regularly was invented as the result of a glue recipe gone wrong. Sometimes it’s all about perspective.
  1. What can you learn from it? In addition to finding a training or workload issue, or uncovering a cool new product, there are other things you can learn from mistakes. You are learning how “not” to do things, which is the first step to learning how to do things. In the early days of running a new business, you will make a lot of mistakes. Just be sure you’re working toward getting better and not making the same mistakes over and over. If you learn from your mistakes, these become tools that can help you improve your processes.
  1. How bad was it, really? Sometimes our fear of making mistakes holds us back from taking risks. Once you’ve failed a few times, however, you begin to realize that it isn’t always as bad as you imagined it might be. As long as you’re learning from the mistake, you’re seeing opportunity for growth.

Mistakes are inevitable, but how you handle mistakes makes all the difference in your growth and opportunity as a business leader. When you look at each mistake as an opportunity to improve yourself, your employees, and your organization, those mistakes can be some of the most beneficial learning experiences of your week.