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Can I Make Mistakes With Employees?


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What's one question that all managers face in managing employees:

. . can I make mistakes with my employees and still be effective in managing them?

Note: Some mistakes are illegal. . .become familiar with the federal and state employment laws.

The mistakes I'm talking about are human in nature. . . .being too busy to focus and listen to your employees.

I've have certainly made mistakes with my staff. . . . didn't listen enough, was annoyed, rescheduled 1:1's with my staff more often than I should, and yet I still managed to do a fairly decent job in managing my staff.

Just because I have a background in HR doesn't mean I didn't make my mistakes. Learning the skill of managing employees is just that. . . learning.

When I realized my mistake, I did the best I could do to rectify the situation. First, I acknowledged my mistake to the employee. Why is this important? You are showing respect to your employee as well as yourself, when you admit that you didn't handle the situation in the best manner. You also model for the employee that it's ok to make mistakes and to come forth so you can both handle the situation. It's a mutual learning experience for both of you.

Sometimes the issue is small and you weren't aware of it until the employee said something. Other times, you knew immediately that you didn't handle a situation right. For example, you didn't take the time to explain a project to the employee and you had a nagging thought that you were not organized in your presentation.

What I found to be the important strength to develop in managing employees is to respect what they bring to your team. Sounds ideal. . . especially when you are busy with day-to-day operations and feel the pressure of time to meet your deliverables. Yet It can be done.

Start by asking yourself. . . do I respect what each member brings to the team? If you don't, then how can you resolve that situation? Employees do deserve your respect. Even if an employee isn't able to meet the essential functions of their job, you can still handle them with respect. Sometimes the most respectful action is to let them move on to another position that is more suited to their abilities. Think it terms of respect when you interact with your team members.

So the question I leave you with is: Can you employees depend on your values to do what is right. . . even if you take a detour and make a mistake?

If you want the best from your employees, you have to give them your best. . . your respect.

Copyright (c) 2008 Pat Brill

Pat Brill is the author of the blog “Managing Employees" can reach her at


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