When you make a mistake, how quickly you act to own up, apologize, and correct – MATTERS. Then evaluate the processes leading up to the mistake. Was it a lack of focus? Poor planning? Quality or availability of resources? Consider in your evaluation – not just the impact on the business, but on the relationships in the business. What action can you take to rebuild trust? What can you offer (in addition to a sincere apology) to show you care and realize the significance of the mistake?
Word of caution: when owning up to mistakes and offering a sincere apology, don’t ruin it by offering excuses, blaming others or circumstances which may have or actually did cause the mistake. Leaders address the victims first, resolve the problem and rebuild the relationship. THEN, they move on to correct faulty processes and human behavior to prevent reoccuring problems. The victims care least about who was at fault, what process went wrong, or what procedure was compromised. Their first priority is for someone to show they care – for someone to take responsibility, apologize, correct the mistake, and make amends. All that other stuff – determining cause, retraining, rewriting procedures, etc – happens behind the scenes and is not what the customer cares about at that moment. So why then do businesses go into all the detail on the front end with the customer about policies, procedures, blah blah blah. That’s what they might as well be saying because that’s all the customer hears until someone finally shows they care.