Critical error Featured

11:18am EDT December 21, 2004
As the old saying goes, to err is human, to forgive ... well, let's say that sometimes forgiveness is the smarter business decision.

But unfortunately, in some situations, not every manager or executive remembers that. In the heat of a serious mistake that is costing the company time, money or an important client, it is tempting to dismiss the person who made the mistake, without a second thought.

A friend of mine recently told me that a serious mistake occurred at the company where she works. The manager in charge of the department where the mistake originated immediately said, "Find out who did it and fire the person." Just like that. No questions asked.

That is a poor management decision. What if the person who made the mistake is one of the company's most valuable employees? Anyone, even a valued company leader, can occasionally make a wrong decision or demonstrate bad judgment. Firing an individual before any fact-finding takes place is an emotional response, not a rational one.

Instead, before taking action, let cooler heads prevail. Then make sure you have all the facts and interview the person who made the mistake. Of course an error made carelessly or negligently is worthy of disciplinary action. Yet even then, the smart manager should weigh the impact of the mistake against the employee's overall performance record.

One of today's biggest challenges in any industry is finding and retaining talented people. And oftentimes, the people who make mistakes are the ones who are also innovative and creative.

These individuals thrive in an atmosphere in which they aren't afraid to make a mistake. And an employee who is forgiven a big mistake usually works harder and is more loyal to the company. So make sure you have policies in place which will prevent the firing of anyone until a careful review process occurs.

You could be losing more money in the long term than saving face in the short term.