As much as we try to be diligent and careful and do our jobs flawlessly, sometimes people make mistakes. Unfortunately, that includes your employees. 

If an employee comes to you and admits they’ve made a mistake, or you find an error in their work, remember it’s not the end of the world. It’s a learning opportunity as much as it is one for leadership. 


Here’s what to do when an employee makes a mistake: 

  • Talk about what happened to get to the bottom of it. If this is an employee who usually is on top of their work, is careful and meticulous, maybe there’s something going on at home. Maybe they’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately or are beginning to feel burned out. Be compassionate and ask how things are going. It’s possible they’re juggling too much and need a little break. Or maybe they misunderstood the instructions they were provided. It’s better to ask than assume. 
  • Remember that your words matter. Once it’s been established what happened leading up to the mistake, don’t talk about the past. Think about the future. Talk about moving forward and resetting the situation, which will help alleviate stress and will remind your employee that they are still an important and trustworthy member of your team. Make it clear that this is a mistake, yes, but it’s not something that is irredeemable. If needed, or if you have examples handy, remind the employee that they’ve done great work and helped their team. There’s no reason for that to change. 
  • Think of the bigger picture. Based on the conversation with the employee, consider whether other employees might be at risk of making the same, or a similar, mistake. Is it possible that some training might help? Could other people be in the same position of feeling burned out, under pressure or stressed to the point of getting a little lax? If a bigger conversation with your team is needed, there’s no need to single out the person who made a mistake; instead, speak generally about how everyone is juggling a lot and it might be good to take a moment and regroup. 
  • Be open about mistakes. Your team should know that they can come to you when things don’t go right. Talk about mistakes you’ve made in your career, whether big or small, to remind them that things happen. Also make it clear that when something goes awry, it’s best to speak up right away instead of trying to cover things up. When mistakes become bad surprises, it can be worse for everyone and create a lack of trust. 
  • Should the pattern be repeated, consider what action is needed. Sometimes a small mistake is just a small mistake; it’s made and addressed and people can move on with a more cautious approach. But if an employee continues to make mistakes, a remediation program might be needed. If the mistakes continue and get worse, it might be time to part ways. 


In all things, it’s important to be a good leader, to be fair and honest with your employee and to work toward the best result for everyone involved. This incident can be a learning moment for the whole team! 


If the time comes that you’re looking to add to your team, contact Davis Staffing. We can help find a great new employee for your team who has the skills and background you’re looking for. Contact Davis Staffing today and let’s get to work.