There’s always that one person in our team who continuously makes mistake, after mistake, after mistake. They’re not always repetitive mistakes, but they seem to be easily avoidable…
How frustrating is that for you? How badly do you want to scream and shout at the individual and just say ”I’ve already told you not to do that”! How many times have you told them not to do something, or to do more of something, such as focus more, pay more attention to detail, to stop rushing through things, to ask for help if unsure … Countless I bet?
Now think about how many times you’ve actually coached them out of their habit or given them training and support to learn from their mistakes? Be honest with yourself here, how many times have you done either of those?
Telling someone they’ve made a mistake and to not do it again, or to do better next time, is not coaching or support. It’s stating the obvious. Yet so many leaders, who are frustrated by an employees lack of attention to detail, or ignorance – or whatever it is that’s causing these errors – don’t actually coach them out of it.
Yes employees have a responsibility to take ownership and also develop themselves, if they’re not learning from their mistakes on their own, we have to question their self-awareness levels – no doubt about it. We do however, also need to coach them into this behaviour.
Mistakes are part of our learning, so when a mistake happens, you can’t get frustrated with the individual. You have to help them learn from it, ”Why did this happen?”, ”What can you do differently next time?”, ”Do you feel you spent enough time reading through the instructions?”, ”Was there a reason why you felt you couldn’t ask for help?”, ”What can I do to support you with this going forward?”.
You have to reflect on whether you were clear enough with the instructions in the first place? Did you provide the individual with enough tools, resources and support to succeed in the first instance? Since your last conversation about the same mistake, have they progressed in any way?
Don’t assume because you’ve told them they’ve made a mistake and need to pay more attention that they’ve suddenly grown out of their bad habit. Help them identify why this error happened in the first place, what they’ve learned from it, what they’ll do differently next time, and what they’re not going to do in future.
Until you can honestly say you’ve delivered fair and clear coaching to the individual…the mistake is on you.
Written by Sahar Habib