Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Managing People Tip 11


Who to delegate a task to

Find out about yourself

The Management Potato

Encouraging ideas


Something for your office wall

The unbroken chain

Are you a successful manager?

Monkey rules

What are managers really for?

Person in hole

Getting your hands dirty

Weekly meeting

Some awkward questions

The three Value Disciplines

Captain of the ship

Person in Hole.

Imagine that there's a hole that nobody knows is there. It's very hard to see. Somebody falls down it.

What should you do?

The best process is probably

1. Help them back out.
2. Sympathise - what bad luck!
3. Check they are OK - not hurt at all.
4. Maybe ask what they've learnt, if anything.
5. Thank them for discovering the hole.
6. Tell everyone else where the hole is so that nobody else falls down it.

Now, when someone makes a mistake at work, how many of the above do you do?

(I'm assuming this isn't a deliberate mistake - they are very rare!)

A more common approach to people who make mistakes is.

1. Kick them while they're still down in the hole.
2. Get a few other people along to jeer at them.
3. Blame them for falling down it.
4. Threaten: If they fall down another they'll be in big trouble.
5. Don't tell too many other people about the hole because we'll look bad for having fallen into it.

I think you'll agree that this is not sensible!

The logical result of the above is as follows:

If someone makes a mistake.

a) Help them put it right.
b) Empathise - mistakes happen (unless you never do anything, or you only do things that you find very easy and you never do anything challenging).
c) Ask what they've learned.
d) Do they know how to avoid repeats?
e) If not - coach them to improve hole-detection skills.
f) thank them for discovering a flaw in the system, which can now be improved for everyone.
g) Make sure that everyone else works to the new improved way - we all gain.

Onwards and upwards!

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