People screw up; don’t make it worse

Managers need to be aware of the messages they send in reacting to an employee’s failure

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If you want your staff to perform well, one of the most important things you need to focus on is how you respond when they don’t perform well, or when they make mistakes. Why? Because in addition to ability and drive, good performance requires that people be willing to take the personal risks inherent in accepting ambitious assignments.

Aren’t people of ability and drive always willing to take risks to fulfill their own ambitions and meet the demands of their supervisors? Not always. Those two things — fulfilling their ambitions and meeting your demands — can come into conflict, especially when it comes to taking personal risks.

When you, as a manager, ask someone to meet an aggressive goal, the person accepting the challenge takes on personal risks. He may not be able to deliver on time or may have to give up personal time or even sleep to try. He may have to try innovative technical approaches that may not work out. Or he may have to deliver substandard work, such as code that is unfinished, unstable, untested or unable to handle foreseeable errors.

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