(No) Good Mistakes: What the Employees Should and Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Do
In a quickly growing company all processes are very dynamic that is why the possibility of making a mistake appears more often. Mistakes are an important part of making decisions, and absence of them means that the team isn’t working at full strength. Formula One describes the best the idea of making the maximum efforts. Sideslipping of a bolide in the corners is not the perfect tactics, but it is a sign of the maximal speed and the struggle for the best result. It is an essential part of a race. But skidding leading to a crash can be fatal. The same is correct for business: mistakes are necessary, their complete absence is bad rather than good, but they must not become critical.
The individual strategy of the company
Every company should have an individual strategy. The criteria of this strategy describe what should and shouldn’t be done while making a decision. This allows to prevent some mistakes and assess the already made ones objectively. The point in every action is in its result. This result can be measured very easily in some spheres. For example, the result of sales is measured in money. Marketing and development can be a little harder to assess, but measurable tasks can be set even there. It is very important to set tasks appropriately - they must be accomplishable, but worthy and correspond to the financial plan of the company. With measurable tasks set correctly, it is easy to make decisions whether to forgive the already made mistakes (and for how long).
In certain cases, the tasks aren’t temporarily performed for some reason or their result is hard to assess. In these cases you can assess the person’s activity. The material measurable result is always better, but there is not one, the struggle for it means a lot and is a good indicator of that the result can be expected soon.
Every person in Acronics, especially the one on the key position, must possess a number of certain traits: alertness, rapid reaction, attention to details, frequency and speed of making decisions, the ability to never give up. Other companies may require another list of important characteristics.
Correspondence to the company’s culture is a very important factor because the result and activity are measured for quite a long period. The person may not make any noticeable mistakes or they may be not so obvious, but if he or she doesn’t comply with the company’s culture, trust in him or her can be very low.
Bad mistakes can include, for example, the passive-aggressive attitude towards tasks. While making decisions in a dynamic business, it is not often obvious what is right. Decisions are not always made with a lot of thought and consideration, controversial situations are often to appear. Nevertheless, people in the company must agree, suggest their own solutions but be able to accept other people’s suggestions properly at the same time. Not being openly against the assignment, the employee obeys, takes the responsibility nominally, but doesn’t actually perform the task, doesn’t struggle for the result, thus satisfying - deliberately or not - his or her need to prove that the decision was wrong. Such mistakes are in fact a form of sabotage which is hard to allow for long.
One more bad mistake is an attempt to limit the spheres of the employee’s efforts. In a small business, not everyone has precise tasks. Very often the opportunity to benefit the company is given to the person, whose duties do not include it. The conditions of a growing business can be compared to the military ones. The sentry’s mission is to guard and protect his or her post. But if during the watch another soldier notices people approaching the forbidden border and simply ignores the situation, the consequences cannot be explained by the fact that it was not his or her watch. The same is true for business: if you have a chance to get involved into work to help the company not to miss a good opportunity, you must take it. The most impermissible mistakes occur when you don’t do it.
An active person who yields results and corresponds with the culture of the company always has more trust when he or she makes mistakes. Nevertheless, the occurrence of one and the same mistake must be noticed. If the person doesn’t learn and makes the same mistakes, even small ones, but repeating constantly, it is not good as well.
One shouldn’t learn from every mistake and not every mistake must be allowed. There are situations when a person makes mistakes with disastrous consequences. We always encourage zeal and determination, but if a person takes the responsibility to contradict the common opinion, he or she must be sure in the positive result in a critical situation. Neither trust, nor correspondence to the company’s culture, nor high results can excuse the mistakes that caused critical economic losses or serious legal consequences for the company. Such mistakes become more of his or her individual responsibility and sometimes they cannot be left without a response. Even unintentional mistakes with catastrophic consequences are hard to ignore.
One more rather often cause of unpleasant and inexcusable mistakes is irresponsibility, breaking the agreements and simple laziness. Such attitude cannot be excused and such mistakes cannot be accepted as an inevitable part of the decision making process.
The attitude towards mistakes is a part of every company’s strategy. In my company while assessing the employee’s performance the first thing that counts is the result, the second is activity and the third is correspondence to the company’s culture. Mistakes happen, it is essential, they are even necessary, but the degree of their permissibility and tolerance towards them depends on the person’s motivation, his or her position, duties and the scale of economic or other harm made by the wrong decision or the bad result of the right decision.