I sometimes comment to colleagues and clients that mistakes are inevitable, and recently I’ve experienced that in my own work. A few weeks ago I posted a short article to an online group, and sharp-eyed readers were quick to point out a spelling error. I referred to a state capitol building, but inadvertently wrote it as capital. Wonderful Mrs. Bersch, my third grade teacher, would have been disappointed that I didn’t remember the mnemonic she taught us – “the capitol in DC has a large dOme. Remember the O.”
The following week I wrote a blog titled “It’s Always Someone’s First Job.” The article was very well received, but the moment it was sent, I realized I’d made a big mistake. I failed to mention my dear friend Kristin and her wonderful husband Peter. When I lived in Boston, they went 15 minutes out of their way, every day, to give me a ride to and from work. We laughed our way down Storrow Drive, enjoying each other’s company. Often those rides were the highlight of my day. They did so many wonderful things for me during those two years that I couldn’t decide which to write about, and somehow I unwittingly left them out entirely.
When I noticed, I called Kristin immediately. She was as gracious as ever.
A spelling error is just a spelling error, but failing to acknowledge those who are kind to us is a bigger deal. All of us make mistakes at home and at work. When costly gaffes happen repeatedly, how do we correct them? When the same employee makes the same error over and over, how do we help? Learning from our mistakes is an important life skill, and helping others learn from theirs can be powerful. I look forward to hearing how you recover from yours.
I am that boss. The one who darts from good idea to good idea until there are so many ideas that nothing is accomplished. I am just back from the Influence Conference, and as usual had a great time learning and growing with colleagues. Even before I left, I knew I would come back to my office with too much information and too many things to implement.
During our Monday Morning Meeting a couple weeks ago, I literally said to my staff, Keri and Mary, “Watch out! I am going to the NSA conference so I will be emailing and texting you nonstop with things we should do. You should probably keep a running list and we can figure out what is truly important and reasonable when I return.”
And then, as though Alexa was listening, I saw this article:
If you work with a passionate, creative and oftentimes scattered boss, I think the ideas in this article are better than just making a list. If you would like coaching on this topic, I suggest that Keri and Mary help you, as in this case, I am a “do as I say, not as I do” boss – the very worst kind.
One of our clients was kind enough to send me what he experienced after I wrote an article about the importance of feedback and compliments.
“Once I paid what I thought was a huge compliment to a Director of Nursing about a member of her nursing staff. As a physician, I said it’s frequently challenging to reach the nurses station by telephone, but whenever I call this particular station, the unit nurse very promptly answers the phone. I relayed to the nursing director that I was very appreciative that this nurse was so immediately responsive to my needs.
The nursing director thanked me for letting her know, and informed me that this particular nurse has been neglecting their duties with respect to patient care and has been on a corrective action plan. The director said that the last place this nurse should be is sitting at the nurses station answering the phone!” My friend the doctor suggested to me that perhaps giving appreciative feedback isn’t always helpful. While that can be true, I think it’s a more complicated and nuanced issue. The following positives came from his comment:
- The doctor had a productive conversation with the Director of Nursing.
- The nurse who answered was rewarded.
- The exchange highlights that employees are multi-dimensional. Even employees who are underperforming in some ways are likely doing at least a few things right, and it’s important to notice what is going right as well as what needs correction.
Can you think of colleagues or employees who need improvement, but are still doing a lot of things right? When positive actions are recognized and appreciated, we are more receptive to making changes to improve performance in other areas. A 360 review provides individuals with a comprehensive evaluation and allows them to receive valuable feedback not only from their managers, but also from colleagues, clients, and vendors.
I am such an advocate of the 360 review process that I’ve written about it on multiple occasions. By learning and having the opportunity to give and receive feedback, employees can improve their work relationships and leverage themselves and their organizations to the next level.
Is it time for your organization to do a 360?