Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the collaborators are his.
Everyone is wrong, but not everyone knows how to turn them into learning opportunities. Instead of resorting to “forgiving and forgetting” or severely punishing, it is better to analyze mistakes to find out the details. This helps me and my team decide how to move forward.
First, it is essential to classify the error. Was it a one-time, random mistake? Or does it represent repeated behavior that means an underlying problem?
It is also important to remember that not all mistakes can be forgiven, even if they are learning experiences. In these cases, I call it a fatal mistake. We took a page from Netflix’s human resources book and generally followed a philosophy of “Hire, reward, and tolerate only fully educated adults.”
Understanding how to deal with the offending employee in a constructive manner is not always clear or easy, but I treat employees as responsible and intelligent team members, and I expect the same courtesy. When mistakes occur, we look at them together rationally. I live by a motto: “Employees join companies, but managers leave.”
When it comes to handling mistakes or letting people go, I never want a company of mine to be known for making the same terrible, cruel, and ultimately fatal mistakes as Xsolla and Bird. Even if you have to fire someone, treat them with the respect and kindness of a friend.
If you’re having trouble making a change in the way you handle conflict management in your business, here are some ways to approach it.
1. Never start an angry conversation
This is wise for all walks of life, but it is useful as a manager. When we make a mistake, it is natural to attack and not think before we speak. Whenever you get an error or problem, don’t respond immediately. Let your rational mind recover for a moment so that your conversation can be productive.
Related: 5 Lessons You Learn From Your Business Mistakes
2. Check yourself first
As a startup, my natural inclination is to look first at myself and our current processes to see if the mistake could have been avoided by changing the way we do things.
For example, if a messenger arrives late or makes a mistake with an order, I don’t automatically assume it’s the individual’s fault. Yes, they should be held accountable for their actions, but it is helpful to analyze the error on a larger scale. Is there anything in our process that caused this error? Are there things I can change about current workflows to prepare my employees for success? That’s the kind of thing I hope to learn from mistakes.
3. Hire the right people from the beginning
Obviously, not all hiring decisions can be perfect. Make sure your team is made up of people with the right mindset, especially when it comes to mistakes. Mistakes are a fact of life, so it’s important to hire people who want to learn from their (and others ’) mistakes.
4. Develop an action plan
Once you’ve discussed the issue privately with your employee, end the conversation by working together on a plan for the future. What steps can each of you take to ensure that this error does not occur again? It can be difficult to walk the fine line between understanding and clemency. I like to follow up after these conversations to assess how they are managing the plan we have put in place.
Related: Learning from failure is what makes entrepreneurs the best leaders
5. Take the example
This goes hand in hand with “check first”. If your team thinks you’re a model of perfection, they won’t want to tell you when they’re damaged.
Managers should not try to hide their mistakes from employees, but rather reveal them and let others learn from them. I think it’s best to be open with my team about my mistakes and bad decisions. Maybe they’ll learn from my stuff, or maybe they won’t. Either way, they’ll know I’ve made my own mistakes, so I won’t judge them harshly for admitting them when they make one.
6. Teach your team that they can do harm
To quote one of my classmates, “Smart people learn from the mistakes of others.” I also grew up that way, and while it helps me learn from other people’s mistakes, it also scared me to admit a mistake or acknowledge anything less than perfection. It imposes a mental block that prevents you from succeeding.
The world has changed (thank God), and now venture capitalists are barely looking at entrepreneurs who haven’t made some mistakes along the way. The point here is that mistakes are natural and expected. Whenever you recognize them and learn from them, they can really help you.
Related: How to successfully manage and resolve conflicts on your computer
Two interesting things happen when your employees realize that a mistake will not cost them their job: first, they are more willing to “take the less busy path” when it comes to finding solutions to problems. This is great for bringing energy and innovation to a small business. Second, your team will consider your wisdom. Even if they move to other jobs, they will remember your lessons on how to deal with mistakes.
Show your team what it means to have a strong hand and an optimistic, problem-solving spirit in the face of mistakes, and they will reward you with hard work, loyalty, and creativity.