Today’s guest post is by Craig Goodliffe, Founder & CEO — Cyberbacker
At the end of the day, we’re all human. We make mistakes, and sometimes our on-the-job decisions turn out to be bad ones.
At work, our decisions can affect many people, including leadership and management. Sound decisions can bind a team together and generate success, whereas poor decisions can lead to strained relationships and far-reaching effects on the company.
One of the toughest challenges when leading a team is knowing how to support people after a mistake. Good leaders use these five strategies to help their team move forward and offer support despite difficult times.
Step 1: Lead with empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others and is a key ingredient of emotional intelligence. During a crisis, it’s easy for leaders to get caught up in the cleanup and forget how their team feels about the decisions that led to the event.
Leaders who lead with empathy can better understand their team’s needs, communicate more effectively, and even help resolve conflicts before they happen. Whatever work needs to be done following a crisis, the entire company will be going through a tough time, so it’s crucial that leaders show they understand and empathize with their team.
Step 2: Define the pain points
After a mistake is made, good leaders focus on the problem — not the person whose decision led to it. The first step in supporting a team through a wrong decision is clearly defining the problem at hand, which starts by thinking through the issue and your team’s pain points.
After those pain paints have been identified, come up with some specific action items with your team to resolve the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once you and your team are able to clearly define the problem, you will be ready to work toward a solution, set new goals, and follow up regularly as those expectations evolve over time.
Step 3: Turn “you” to “we” conversations
Bad decisions notoriously lead to the blame game and awkward workplace politics, but turning “you” conversations into “we” conversations can help mitigate this. By turning “you” into “we” conversations, you will create a feeling of support and teamwork instead of alienating employees for their mistakes. Remember: realigning with the long-term goals and mission of the organization are more important than one bad decision.
Instead of criticizing the person who made the poor choice, try shifting your language towards solutions instead of problems. For example: “I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision for anyone involved; let’s figure out how we can move forward from here together.” Or: “We’re all working hard to find ways around this problem; let’s keep brainstorming until we come up with something good!”
Step 4: Treat mistakes as lessons and opportunities
A critical part of helping your team through this difficult time is teaching them to learn from mistakes. A mistake is an opportunity for growth, so encourage employees by asking questions such as “What did you learn?” or “How will this situation change the way you approach similar situations in the future?” Conversations like these encourage employees by showing them you care about their development and want them to succeed.
Mistakes are inevitable — it’s how you manage those mistakes that truly matters. A poor decision is an opportunity to make your team stronger. When you treat mistakes as lessons and opportunities for growth, instead of failures or shortcomings, you create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable taking risks. And when people feel comfortable taking risks, great things can happen.
Step 5: Provide solutions for the future
If a decision has been poorly made, take time out of your schedule to listen and understand what went wrong before presenting solutions. When you fully grasp the past problem, leave it behind and focus on how things will be done differently next time around.
Rather than dishing out blame and punishment, be ready to give positive feedback, provide encouragement, and offer support. Show that you are there to help them get back on track and make smarter decisions in the future.
Moving forward, remember to emphasize the importance of good decisions over quick decisions and that everyone makes mistakes. Even your “best” employees will inevitably make a bad decision once in a while. When things don’t go as planned, you will need to help your team deal with the consequences.
As a leader, you are most effective when you use emotional intelligence to lead through empathy and understanding. This will allow you to focus on what went wrong instead of who went wrong, treat mistakes as learning opportunities, and provide actionable solutions for the future.
Craig Goodliffe is the CEO and founder of Cyberbacker, the leading provider of virtual assistance and administrative support services from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world. Goodliffe is an expert on business development and shares his insight as a MAPS coach who helps clients earn seven-figure incomes. Read more about him in the Top 100 Magazine, International Business Times, Inc, and the Forbes Business Council. Cyberbacker is changing the lives of small business owners and remote workers through its world-class business solutions.
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