Making mistakes is part of any career. Benjamin Franklin said “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” Learning from mistakes and changing is the difference between good and great leaders. I’ve made more than my fair share of blunders; I’m sure my coworkers will attest to that. I’m not speaking of epic and utterly catastrophic failures. I’m talking about patterns of errors made over and over, that result in repeated negative consequences.
Here are 3 ways to screwed up and what I’ve learned from each:
Avoid Confrontation: I’m confrontation averse, always have been. A couple years ago a young woman in my division came into my office and fully called me out “You really hate confrontation don’t you?” I was taken aback by her brutal openness. It was true though. She’d been struggling in her job and we both knew it. My avoidance of the issue had made it worst. Once we had open dialog on the matter we were able to create solutions.
Learned: It’s always better to address issues openly and directly. Avoidance is worst.
Email Instead of Talking Face-to-Face: Email is a quick, efficient communication tool. Email has weaknesses though; primary, tone and emotion can easily be misread. On more than one occasion I’ve fired off a seemingly harmless email only to learn that the tone of the email was completely misinterpreted. It wasn’t the receivers fault. It was my fault for emailing when a simple conversation would have been more effective.
Learned: Pick up the phone or better, walk down the hall and talk. This allows for better communication and less likelihood for causing overreaction.
Hire When Your Gut Tells You Not To: Most companies use some sort of structured process for interviewing and hiring. Processes are in place to aid hiring managers in making the best possible hiring decision. Hiring is still a gamble though. Managers make their best assessment based on information gathered during interviews and reference checks, and then take the leap and go with their instincts. I’ve had interviews go well and reference checks too, but still had a nagging feeling saying “it’s not right.” Every time I went against that feeling I ended up regretting it.
Learned: Trust your instincts.
“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”
– Benjamin Franklin
To err is human, but that’s not an excuse for not learning and improving. If you haven’t made mistakes… pay a little more attention I’m sure you’ll find some.
What mistakes have you made? What have you learned from them?