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Want to lead a team where it’s safe to make mistakes? Then there are 3 questions to ask when someone on your team takes accountability for screwing up.

Some years ago on the job I made a huge mistake. Huge. My actions and thought process were well-intentioned, but the result was one that could have put the company at risk both financially and legally.

I was fortunate to have a very supportive yet direct manager. He wouldn’t hesitate to tell me if he thought something was stupid, but he also gave me grace to learn. At the same time, he didn’t suffer fools or dishonesty.

When I realized my mistake, I knew that I needed to tell him straight away. That was the right thing to do. And I didn’t want him hearing it from anyone else.

  • Me: (Explains what happened, why it happened, what I learned, and what I was doing to fix it.
  • Him: “Did you learn from it?”
  • Me: “Yes.”
  • Him: “Are you going to do it again?
  • Me: “No.”
  • Him: “Ok. Then let’s fix this thing.”

And we did.

If you have a team where you’ve made it safe to make mistakes, your team members will take accountability and come to you. And your response should be:

  • What did you learn from it?
  • What are you going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
  • What help do you need from me to fix it?

And, of course, in a very #TedLasso way: “𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗲.”

Now if your team members aren’t taking accountability for mistakes, or aren’t taking risks to begin with, then you have different problems. I can help with that: the trust required for accountability and risk-taking is what we build in The Compass Team Experience.

We’ve all made mistakes on the job. What response did you receive when you fessed up, and how did it make you feel?

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