Can Your Team Make It Right?

We all make mistakes. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human.

Sometimes the mistakes bring dire consequences. Others seem less important.

The challenge comes in whether or not your team can recover and make it right.

Houstan Texans and Dallas Cowboys football fumble

Image by AJ Guel

The Fumble

Have you ever watched a football game where the offensive throws a pass and makes the completion only to be hit hard by the defensive squad? During the hit, the receiver loses control of the ball and fumbles it.

Do you know what happens after the hit and fumble? Both teams scramble to recover the ball. The offensive team goes especially hard, knowing a mistake was made. They’re attempting to make it right.

Now It’s About You

Now, what does your team do when a mistake occurs? Do they scramble hard to rectify the situation or do they sit on the sidelines pointing fingers and saying “It’s his fault! He didn’t do his job.”?

I hope it’s the prior and not the latter.

But if it’s the latter, I’ve got a few pieces of advice for you. You can improve your team and they can help to correct the mistakes that happen.

What Can Be Done

Like I said, there’s good news. You can improve the performance of your team. Even when a mistake happens.

How can you do this?

  • Give encouragement after a mistake happens: Errors are going to happen. Miscommunication, an errant email, or a failed project. It’s the nature of the beast. How you react to a failure will determine how the team reacts. If you build up your team after a mistake they’ll feel more comfortable in trying to correct the situation.
  • Be the example: Now, don’t go and fail on purpose. That’s not the point. But if you do fail, be the first to own up to the failure. Show the team a great example. And then go and tackle the failure and show them how, even if you fail, things can be made right. They’re looking to you for leadership, give it to them.
  • Give your team the opportunity to succeed: Sometimes what looks like a failure really isn’t a failure. Don’t declare a failure until it actually is. If you tell them they’ve failed before they’ve given it their all, they will have failed.

It’s important to have a team that will recover quickly and get to the task of correcting a mistake. Build up your team in the right way and you’ll have team members chomping at the bit to be problem solvers. Don’t hold them back. Set them free.

Question: When a mistake happens, how do you make it right? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • The fumbles, the mistakes, are where you can really build your reputation.  You can either act like it doesn’t matter or make a difference.  Or you can fall on your sword and fix it.  Others appreciate the latter.  It builds trust.  Just suck it up, say you screwed up or dropped the ball, and fix it.

    • Right on Larry. Doing this would help alleviate so many problems that arise from not taking the responsibility. 

  • DS

    Admitting a mistake was made, taking ownership of the mistake, and learning from how it happened are all important.

    • Right on DS. All of those are steps on the path to success.

  • Humility is a good thing.  Admitting the mistake, fixing it, and moving on is a good path.  We can also learn a lesson.

    • Thanks for stopping by Dan. It’s all about taking the first step and getting on the path to fixing things.

  • Arny

    Yup…we do all the above things you entioned…and then some…it so important.  What you do after your mistake is what matters most…your attitude towards it.

    • Awesome Arny. It’s always great to hear of people and organizations doing the things that need to be done. You also mentioned you guys do more than that. What other steps do you take?

  • Don’t have a team but I do admit my mistakes eventually 🙂

    • You’ll have a team sooner than you know it Kimanzi! I can see virtual assistants and managers in your future.

  • Being an example is huge.  Whether it’s at the office or at home, my team and my family need to see my respond to failings.  It’s going to happen.  And when I don’t get it right, they need to see me apologizing and doing whatever I can to rectify the situation.

    •  That’s great you recognize this fact Jon. Being open and honest in front of those we lead, whether it’s a team or our family, is major.

  • Great stuff. I agree that its important that we give encouragement. Of course when you have a team member that is teachable, this type of encouragement will lead them to correction and change. At the end of the day we want to speak into their identity. They made a mistake, they aren’t the mistake.

    •  Great point Paul. A lot of it can have to do with the reception the team member gives to the encouragement or correction. Once you’ve given it, it’s in their hands to use and benefit from it.

  • I think encouragement must be balanced with appropriate consequence (which depends on the situation and circumstance of the fail/mistake). Going with the example you provided, a team might fumble which leads to the game being lost. So the coach should  provide encouragement but also talk to the team and individuals about that type of mistake being unacceptable and how to low the risk of having it happen again. Great post and thoughts Joe!  

    • You’re right Dan. Consequences are a part of the healing process of making a mistake.

  • I make it right by admitting that I made a mistake instead of making excuses. What hurts a team is when individuals won’t admit their mistakes. I have dealt with a team member in the past who hated to admit when he made mistakes. This hindered the progress of the team.

    • That’s great Bernard. Admitting our mistakes is the first step towards healing.

  • I think whenever there are failures and mistakes we should look at the bigger picture – the process that allowed the mistake to happen. We can do a lot to setup processes that prevent mistakes.  In other words, I’d spend more time trying to fix the process than the person.

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