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Supervisors: Recover From Your Mistakes

Every supervisor will make mistakes, including yourself. Much of the credibility you earn with your employees will come from the way you recover from your mistakes.

Typically, supervisors respond to a mistake in the following ways:

Pretend it never happened

Discount its effects

Make excuses

Make the case that what you did was OK

Admit the mistake and take responsibility for it and its consequences

Which one do you typically use?

Unfortunately, some supervisors can’t face up to their mistakes. They can’t accept the fact that they could make mistakes, they should have been smarter, or they should have been more careful or diligent.

Responding in these ways will only create further problems, particularly with employees.

How should a supervisor respond to his or her mistakes?

First of all, realize that admitting mistakes gives your employees a sense that you are an up-front person.

Thus, they will feel more comfortable with you, because they know that they’re likely to make mistakes as well. You will be more accepting towards them.

When you have discovered that you have made a mistake, here are some suggested steps to take:

Admit the mistake

Acknowledge the problems it has caused

Make a commitment (not only to yourself but to your employees) to rectify the current situation and improve in the future

Ask employees and your own personal supervisor for advice

Follow up to assess how you are doing

Some supervisors think that they show their weak side if they admit to their mistakes.

However, admitting mistakes shows your employees that you are human and that you are willing to face up to mistakes and correct them.

Acknowledge the problems the mistake has caused. “Boy, did that cause you guys to spin your wheels?”

“I’ll do better in the future.”

“What do you think I could do so I don’t goof up again.”

After making amends to improve, assess how things turned out. And don’t be afraid to discuss it with your employees and supervisor.

The next time you make a mistake, evaluate how well you responded to the mistake.

What were the specifics of the mistake?

How did the mistake affect your employees?

What were the consequences to the organization caused by the mistake?

How did you recover from the mistake?

How did your employees respond to you and your mistake?

What are your intentions for doing better in the future?

However, admitting mistakes and doing something about it will increase credibility with most employees and supervisors.

Make an effort the next time you make a mistake as a supervisor to handle the mistake in a more credible and effective way.

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