What to do when your team makes a mistake ? 

When things don’t go well ? 

When someone forgets something that is important ?

The compassionate view may be to forget and forgive. Be humane and kind and let the whole matter go. Protect the team. This is likely to lead to disaster – the incident will be repeated and is likely to become worse. No change will occur in the system to prevent the error from occurring again. Also the person or team concerned will have no learning development or growth. So this option is the worst thing to do when someone does something wrong.

Reprimand, Condemn and Criticize – This option puts the blame or onus on the person making the mistake. It has the immediate effect of making them defensive and staunchly defending their wrong behaviour. This is likely to lead to conflict and both sides digging in their heels. Bad feelings all around and most likely no improvement for the future. Someone will hold a grudge at the end of the conversation. Not a smart way to go ahead.

The third and most effective method for a leader is “Forgive & Remember”. Understand the issue, the root cause of why it happened and what is the corrective action. Agree then with the person concerned “what would you do differently”. Then forgive them. Finally remember to make a note in your diary on the issue, who did it and what is the action for the next time.

Here are the 5 benefits of taking this approach

  1. The team feels there is space to make mistakes and the leader is compassionate. You win trust and commitment from the team
  1. People deserve a second chance. Many sportsmen did not succeed in their first attempt. Same is true for many leaders and CEOs. 
  1. You record the issue that happened to ensure it does not happen again
  1. If it does happen again and the individual concerned is again responsible you know it is your duty to take corrective action now and be firm in doing so
  1. You can experiment and encourage your team to try new ideas and they will do so because they know that you got their back

Forgive and remember is the formula for compassionate ambitious and achievement oriented leaders. It promotes trust, builds confidence and drives results. It also ensures the same mistake it not repeated again. 

Forgive & Remember.

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