What Not to Say When an Employee Makes a Mistake

What Not to Say When an Employee Makes a Mistake

When one of your employees makes a mistake, what do you say? You might feel frustrated or angry, and ask something like “What were you thinking?” or “What went wrong?” But those kinds of past-focused questions only reinforce the mistake and make the person feel defensive. Instead, ask a question that looks forward: “How will you do it differently next time?” Focusing on the future this way allows the person to acknowledge their mistake and demonstrate what they’ve learned. Additionally, it shows that you’re confident in the person’s abilities and gives you the chance to point out any problems in their thinking. Future-focused questions aren’t easy to ask when your emotions are hot. Take a deep breath before speaking, and remember that your goal in this situation is to help the employee grow — not to make them feel worse than they already do.

* Source: Harvard Business School’s Management Tip of the Day

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