When Great Staff Fail: 6 Tips for Managing Through Employee Mistakes

managing employees


As one of Kansas City’s top recruiting firms, Morgan Hunter knows that when an employee makes a big mistake, it can be seriously disappointing – especially when it’s a top performer. How can you manage through a major mistake and get your staff member back on track? Here are 6 tips to help you:

Tip #1: Don’t lose your cool.

It’s easy to get angry and take it out on your employee. But this can wind up doing more harm than good in the long run and it will just put your team member on the defensive. It’s important, instead, to maintain your composure and even walk away for a few moments to gain some clarity on the situation.

Tip #2: Make sure you know the facts.

Don’t make any decisions or take any action until you have a full sense of the big picture. What went wrong? Why? Who was involved? What can be done to prevent the same mistake going forward? It’s important to ask and answer these questions – without casting judgment at this point – to find out all the facts and ensure the same problem doesn’t happen again.

Tip #3: Focus on solutions, not blame.

Employee mistakes can be maddening and exasperating. But look at the situation as a learning experience. What knowledge or information did you and your staff gain from the situation? It’s easy to point the finger of blame. But it’s much more productive and even beneficial to learn from the experience.

Tip #4: Be clear about your expectations.

Mistakes at work often happen out of a lack of clear communication. As the manager, it’s up to you to ensure your people are on the same page as you when it comes to your goals and expectations for them. So when an employee makes a mistake, it’s time for a sit down to go over what they should have done and why, as well as your expectations going forward.

Tip #5: Revisit processes and procedures.

A mistake can be a red flag that there’s an issue with a particular process or procedure at your company. For instance, perhaps orders need to be checked and signed off on by two people rather than one. Whatever the case, evaluate whether a change in process can prevent similar mistakes from happening down the line.

Tip #6: Communicate consequences.

Most employees will take their mistakes seriously. However, some will laugh it off or treat it as a joke. When this happens, it’s important that you communicate consequences to them – so they completely understand what can happen going forward if they continue down the same path.

Keep in mind, if an employee never makes a mistake, then they’re probably always operating in their comfort zone – which isn’t necessarily a good thing, either. So when a top employee makes a big mistake, don’t lose it on them. Hold them accountable, but also learn from the situation and put safeguards in place so it doesn’t happen again.

Need more help finding and retaining great staff for you team?

Call the experts at Morgan Hunter. Over the past 30 years, we’ve been recruiting high-performing professionals for some of Kansas City’s most respected organizations. We can help you source and hire the talent you need. Contact us today to learn more.

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