Plug a VGA cable into the wrong port and presentations die. Have you ever noticed that “VGA in” sits right beside “VGA out?”
Small things are big when others depend on you.
The danger of small screw-ups:
Frustration from small screw-ups invites overreaction. Leaders do stupid things. Eggshell environments emerge. Everyone slows down for fear of screwing up.
Overreaction makes you choke on mosquitoes
and lose sight of elephants.
Small screw-ups expose other screw-ups that might happen. Suddenly the world feels like it’s falling apart. You can’t sleep at night.
Never explain forward-facing initiatives as solutions to past failures. It’s a downer.
Fixing past mistakes frees forward movement
but doesn’t fuel momentum.
Get a grip:
- Solve small screw-ups in small ways. Don’t call a departmental meeting because the new guy plugged the VGA cable into the wrong port.
- One person’s mistake isn’t everyone’s. Never let small failures in one area motivate you to point out short-falls in other areas. It’s demoralizing and disrespectful.
- Go light not dark. Encourage everyone when one small screw-up impacts many. “Thanks for your devotion. This was an isolated event.”
- Smile when you say, “We’ll figure out how to prevent this from happening again.”
Permission to make mistakes enables high performance. Mistake-free environments are stagnant or dead.
Small screw-ups matters because you matter.
How can leaders affirm individuals while dealing with mistakes?