Dear Dan: I Have an Employee who Makes Repeated Mistakes

Dear Dan,

I have an employee who rushes through her work. I’ve tried to get her to slow down, but she is always worried about getting in trouble for not getting work done. She has never gotten into trouble for not getting work done while working for me.

When she rushes, she makes mistakes on things that she has done correctly, in the past, for years. How do you help this sort of employee? I know she has anxiety and in reading this I am now wondering if there is a correlation. Any advice?

Seeking Advice

Dear Seeking,

Sometimes we cause our own frustrations.

Self-inflicted frustration:

Don’t blame your employee for a situation you’ve been tolerating. We cause our own frustration when we:

  1. Respond the same way to repeated mistakes.
  2. Hope patience will resolve issues without intervention.
  3. Delegate tasks to people who consistently drop the ball.

An employee’s repeated mistakes reflect on the person who manages them.

Boredom:

What if it’s boredom? If she’s done things correctly for years, maybe she needs new responsibilities.

  1. How might you redesign her job?
  2. Who might be able to assume some of her current responsibilities so she can focus on something new?
  3. How satisfied is she with her current job on a scale of 1:10? If she is dissatisfied, but is reluctant to speak up, how might you begin crafting a new future for/with her?

Suggestions from Sara:

I reached out to Sara Stesney for her suggestions. I’ve worked with Sara and know that she manages in an area that requires precision.

Sara shared an illustration that might help your employee grasp the importance of quality.

Sara said, “If you went to McDonalds and ordered food, would you rather have the food come out REALLY FAST and be completely wrong or would you rather the food come out in a reasonable amount of time and be perfect?”

Sara added two more suggestions.

  1. Ask your employee to compete her work, set it aside, and review it for mistakes later.
  2. Help your employee learn by finding and correcting her own mistakes. Don’t point out mistakes. Say, “This work has mistakes. I need to know you can find your own mistakes. Please find and correct them.”

You have my best,

Dan

How might managers deal with employees who make repeated mistakes?

Note: The text from questions is not included in my 300 word limit. (I also exclude the after material from word count.)

Bonus material:

Your Employee Messes Up: How do you Respond (SHRM)

How to Manage Employees who Make Lots of Mistakes (Small Business)