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Coaching an Employee Through Failures and Mistakes

Posted by Caitlin McCuaig

Jun 6th, 2019

Coaching an Employee Through Failures and Mistakes

Mistakes and failure are occurrences that no one likes to discuss but they can happen to everyone. Employees make honest mistakes which leave them feeling embarrassed or, possibly after more then one failed attempt at a project, defeated. To prevent your employee from shifting into this mindset, take this as an opportunity to transform this approach into one focused on learning and growth. Some points to remember as you coach your employee through their tough situation can include:

• Allow for some time and space- once it is apparent that your employee has made a mistake or a project has failed, allow a brief period for reflection before scheduling a meeting to discuss this. It is not fair to ambush your employee and expect an immediate explanation. This might cause your employee feel you are micromanaging them and it could result in feelings of resentment or a further sense of defeat.

• Show where it may have wrong- giving your employee a clear picture of exactly what went wrong is vital in preventing them from repeating the same mistake in the future. Having an honest and open discussion how the project may have misfired may be uncomfortable but it is important for the employee to completely understand the full scope of the problem.

• Don’t point fingers- while clearly explaining to your employee what may have gone wrong, do not focus on placing blame. Instead, place the emphasis on how your employee can avoid repeating this error in the future.

• Failure is not always bad- once you have gone over why the mistake happened or how the project did not succeed, and how it may be avoided in the future, a manager now has the opportunity to look at the takeaways from this experience. Now you can discuss with your employee what has been learned from this experience and how it can be applied to other areas of their job.

These points will help you and your employee navigate when a project does not come together perfectly. Failure is just one of the many experiences that will help your employee grow in to that fantastic team member you have been seeking. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”


Coaching an Employee Through Failures and Mistakes

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