I could tell from the look on his face that something was wrong. My usually self-sufficient analytics manager was standing in my office doorway, uncharacteristically speechless.
He had supplied me with information for a big-deal Board-level communication that I had JUST sent.
“Did you send that email yet?” he asked me.
“10 minutes ago…” I replied, now nervous.
“The number I gave you was wrong.”
No one who communicates with CEOs EVER wants to hear this.
We regrouped. I resent the email. I hated having to do it, and he knew it. We talked about how WE could prevent a repeat performance and moved on.
Had he not spoken up, the ramifications of that mistake would have been MUCH more serious than my reputation ding.
It was crucial that he felt comfortable exposing the error so we could fix it quickly and effectively.
When your team knows that you have high standards, it can be difficult for them to come clean when inevitable mistakes happen.
Focusing on desired results, rather than blame, helps your team feel comfortable coming to you with a problem and gives them the mental space to solve it.
There’s still accountability, but the emphasis is on learning and moving forward.