Monday mornings can be rough. You bid farewell to your beloved weekend, and trade for a healthy dose of reality.
Before you can finish that final sip of the sweet nectar that is your coffee, your email explodes. Monday morning has officially begun.
If you’re anything like me, you dread hearing that things are not going as they should. When emails like that arrive, my strategic brain automatically kicks into overdrive.
What? How could this happen? Did I drop the ball? How do we fix this? How do we ensure this doesn’t happen again? What is my timeline to fix this? Who do I need to notify?
Last but not least, the question we need to stop asking ourselves in that moment: who’s fault is this? This question is completely natural to ask, but not helpful in these office situations.
One of the more difficult lessons to learn as a young professional is deal with mistakes.
Wilco recently promoted two of our largest annual sales: Blue Friday and Black Friday. With our 18 farm stores being flooded, it is inevitable that at least one mistake would be made. Knowing this, one of our Marketing Department goals at Wilco is to own the mistakes of others (and to be as helpful as possible in all situations). Despite being a larger company, we are still run by humans. With the core value of teamwork (at Wilco), learning how to aid in situations without channeling blame is extremely important.
Sometimes failure will come because of your own mistakes, sometimes it won’t, but regardless of the reason something didn’t work out, it’s important that you own the problem. – Matthew Toren, Entrepreneur.com
Here’s what I have observed.
Don’t panic. My team works like a well-oiled machine, springing into action to save the day (when it’s needed). However, this doesn’t come without a bit of excitement (and sometimes panic). You cannot control what has already happened. However, you can control your reaction and the steps you take towards resolution. Proceed with caution, take a step back and evaluate the situation from all angles. Take a second to re-read that email you drafted before hitting send. Check for accusatory tones or things that could be re-worded. You’re all working towards the same cause.
When you point fingers at others, you have 3 pointing back at you. No one wants to look like an idiot. Taking ownership, even when something is not your fault is difficult. It is important to use some tact in these situations. It is all too easy to stand back and say, “It’s not my fault. That was so-and-so’s responsibility.” However, these types of statements are not helpful in these situations, especially with an urgent matter. Take responsibility for what you can fix and move forward. Stifle the groans, and side comments. Change your mindset, and be a team player.
Check the attitude. Be gracious, we’ve talked about this one before, but here’s a reminder. People love to be helpful. If you are getting notifications, it is because people are trying to help. Do not take these notifications personally. Thank them for their assistance in the matter and for their attention to detail. This is something my department is great at. Regardless of the situation at hand, my team makes an effort to make others feel appreciated.
Be helpful. Being up front and helpful makes you more relatable. Mistakes are inevitable, everyone makes them (even when you checked things twice). Chances are, as long as you (or your team) are not prone to frequent mistakes, people will be appreciative and a bit more lenient if you approach the situation with honesty. Instead of throwing your coworker under the bus, explain that you/your team will do anything possible to aid in the situation. If the situation is something that needs to be resolved outside of yourself, or your team; forward it along to the appropriate person/team. It is likely that they (much like you were) are unaware of the situation/issue. If you are able to help, chances are that it might not take you as much work as you thought to “fix” the issue/situation.
Suck it up. Mistakes are like Mondays, nobody really likes them but we all still see them. It’s easy to groan or explode in frustration in these situations, but that’s far from productive. If you are part of the team that can fix it, you can be a part of the solution. This is perhaps one of the most important pieces to owning mistakes and resolving issues (as a team member). Even if the mistake is not yours, someone needs to accept the ownership, and move forward to help find the solution. We are all in this together. Just be honest and demonstrate your integrity as an employee and as a person.
Mistakes are inevitable, so make your reaction one of positive action.
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