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From Jo Causon for CNN
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(CNN) -- "One of our line managers has made a sizeable mistake on a project which has impacted negatively on the business. How can I address the problem tactfully and ensure they learn from this mistake?"

Jo Causon, Director, marketing and corporate affairs, Chartered Management Institute

Jo Causon, Director, marketing and corporate affairs, Chartered Management Institute

Firstly, it is important that this matter is dealt with privately with the individual in question.

Try and avoid a situation where the manager who has made the mistake is identified to others across the organization. This will demonstrate that you do not endorse a blame culture where individuals are singled out for what could be a "well-intentioned" mistake.

Remember that without managers who are prepared to take risks and introduce innovations at the cost of making a mistake, the organization is likely to be missing opportunities to boost future performance and, ultimately, the bottom line.

Talk with the individual immediately to assess the size of the mistake and its implications for the business. Try to find out how and why the error occurred. Was it down to insufficient training? Were there any warning signs that were missed in the run-up to the error occurring?


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In other words, make sure you have all the facts and an awareness of how they feel about the situation before any action is taken.

Once you have the facts, discuss possible solutions and how the mistake can be addressed. Giving them an element of control over the situation will help them feel they are doing something to rectify their error. It will also help the individual in question learn from their mistake for the future.

Research by the Chartered Management Institute found that taking a "command and control" approach to management was stunting managers' capacity to achieve their full potential. Try and make sure your organization does not fall into this category. Giving people the space and opportunity to work will be more beneficial for both parties in the long-term.

Preventing mistakes is impossible, but when an employee creates problems for the organization due to an error of judgement, it must be investigated so that the potential for future errors is reduced.

By ensuring that your manager is not ostracized and is given the opportunity to work through the problem positively, you will be able to draw key learning points out of an otherwise negative event.

Jo Causon
Director, marketing and corporate affairs
Chartered Management Institute

The Chartered Management Institute is the only chartered professional body that is dedicated to management and leadership. It is committed to raising the performance of business, supporting and advising individuals and organizations, and to help tackle the management challenges you face on a daily basis. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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