How to Take Ownership of Your Errors When You Make Mistakes in Management

Owing Your Mistakes

Take it from a manager – every manager is aware that they are not perfect. Take comfort in the fact that all managers make mistakes sometimes but always have a strategy ready to tackle any mistakes! At Sussex Business School, we not only teach you how to be a good manager on paper but how to apply what you know to your position. From years of experience as a manager myself, here’s how to handle your mistakes in management.

Common Management Mistakes

Being a manager or a leader does not mean that your say always goes. There are plenty of mistakes managers commonly make such as micromanagement, ego leadership, not listening or valuing employee feedback and failure to progress them. In my experience, there are two main ways to discover you have made mistakes as a manager. Sometimes your mistakes are so big and obvious that you (and everyone around you) can recognise them instantly. Other times, we have to rely on our employees’ feedback to understand our errors.

Ownership of Errors

Owing your mistakes is the first thing we need to do. Nothing good comes from ignoring our mistakes and we can’t move forwards without changing direction. In fact, not owning your mistakes as a manager can lead to the problem lasting longer than necessary and your employees remember it as worse than it was. Own your errors, acknowledge them to the team with a plan of action to follow up and fix it.

Righting The Wrong

Apologising for your mistakes and owing your mistakes is important but it’s also important not to leave your team with no way around the error. Put the error into perspective and recognise that making these mistakes helps us to not make them in future. Based on your experience, create a game plan for avoiding the mistake in future and make a learning lesson of the error.

Avoiding Mistakes in Future

If we can make mistakes as managers, employees can too. It’s good that you have demonstrated a positive outcome from a mistake but it’s even better if you can identify why you might have made the mistake and avoid it in the first place.

Is there too much work to be done? Assess workload-to-staff ratio and make sure your team is big enough to handle the work. Assess delegation and make sure the right people are doing the right jobs. How is the work environment? Is it possible that it is too chaotic, and it might have distracted you? Are you and your team taking proper care of themselves? Try to encourage the team to manage their energy instead of their time.

As a manager who has made mistakes before, we can confirm that an error is not the end of your career and, when handled correctly, will not inspire uncertainty in your team but confidence and trust. Owning your mistakes in this honest and productive way can do much more good than harm and you have nothing to worry about!

Have you made mistakes as a manager? Let us know in our forum and we’ll provide some advice!

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