They happen. Mistakes that is. Sometimes big mistakes happen and there are no consequences and no-one is even aware.

Sometimes, small mistakes happen and consequences are disastrous. So what do you do when you become aware of a problem? The temptation is to go all Corporal Jones, rushing around saying (or perhaps thinking) “Don’t panic, Don’t panic!”. But cool heads are required in that situation and if no-one else is available then it better be your head that remains calm.

So here’s a technique for handling when things go wrong:

  1. Get the facts. What’s happened and what are the consequences? Are there any other aspects to the problem that you have yet to uncover?
  2. What is the impact and who is affected?
  3. Have you uncovered the full extent of the problem? Maybe double-check the work to make sure that there are no other problems within it.
  4. Take responsibility for what went wrong. This doesn’t mean that you intentionally did it wrong, or that doing it right was part of your job description. It means that you know something went wrong, you’re unhappy about it, and you accept responsibility for letting it get past you and you accept responsibility for making sure it won’t happen again.
  5. Come up with a plan to limit the impact of the problem. If you can’t come up with a plan, say so and ask colleagues for suggestions.
  6. Alert the relevant parties and if necessary apologize. Not because it’s your fault, but because the incident cost other people time or money or upset them, and you’re sorry that they have to deal with that.
  7. Consider whether the problem is systemic? You may have uncovered one issue affecting one client but does it affect lots of others? Come up with a plan to avoid the problem in the future.

At A4G we say that there are only three reasons something goes wrong. Someone didn’t follow the system, someone didn’t understand the system, the system wasn’t good enough. If someone didn’t follow the system, they are reminded of the consequences to our clients, to their colleagues and to them. If they didn’t understand the system then it’s back to the training. If the system wasn’t good enough, then we need to change the systems.

Alternatively, hide, muddy the waters, blame someone else, depersonalize and then move on to the next disaster. Your choice.

We wrote a little article about systemising your business here. We could chat all day about systems, give one of our team a call to find out how this could directly benefit you.