It’s Less About Mistakes and More About Recovery

Even James Taylor makes mistakes.  I probably would have let it slide if he continued on with “America The Beautiful”; but glad he made a graceful recovery and started singing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Game 2 of the World Series.

In my book, an example of how we should focus less on mistakes and more so on how people recover from them.

Inc. ran a post about how to hire born leaders by posing the question of “Tell me about the last person you fired.”  Now, not everyone you fire is necessarily someone you hired, so my add-on question would be “Tell me about the last person you hired that you had to fire.”  In other words, when have you made a mistake and how did you recover?

A former boss told me I wasn’t doing my job if I wasn’t occasionally making mistakes. This was a speech after a fairly significant mistake.  “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks,” was the gist of the conversation. When it gets down to it, my recovery was what was key in the situation. I took ownership of the misstep. I made amends as best I could. I didn’t make excuses and I didn’t try and hide it.

Back to the hiring/firing question. It rocks. I think it gives great insight into how a person will deal with adversity and how they will recover when faced with future mistakes. It gives you a glimpse into communication style, how they deal with conflict, how quickly they act, the level of compassion or not, the analysis of what happened and how they dealt with the fallout, next steps taken… and ultimately how accountable they are with respect to the mistake.

I’ve also learned you can’t dwell on mistakes – yours or others.  How quickly you rebound sets the stage for how quickly you can course correct. I care about results.  I want my team to be effective and focused at all times but recognize missteps are bound to happen eventually.  So be accountable, learn from it and press on – and go get the right result.

Or as JT did, take a quick breath, change key and belt “The Star-Spangled Banner” like you meant to from the beginning.

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).


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