Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Recognize your mistakes

I was reading an article in Business Week by Jack and Suzy Welch last night about the qualities of successful managers. Of the various qualities, one in particular stood out:
We would also add two other qualities to the must-have list. One is a heavy-duty resilience, a requirement because anyone who is really in the game messes up at some point. You're not playing hard enough if you don't! But when your turn comes, don't make the all-too-human mistake of thinking getting ahead is about minimizing what happened. The most successful people in any job always own the failures, learn from them, regroup, and then start again with renewed speed, vigor, and conviction.

That's pretty good advice. Admit your mistakes, correct them, and move on. In my company, that's just the way it works. We don't waste time finger-pointing. If there was a failure, we put appropriate measures in place so it doesn't happen again and move on.

Gary Kaltbaum frequently says "Recognize your mistakes early." If you make a mistake, understand how you got into this situation and correct it as quickly as possible. Don't let your mistake fester and become a bigger problem down the road.


Joel Garry said...

That is pretty good advice in general.

But would you really want someone to be your DBA who keeps losing your data in novel ways and is too mulish to see that is wrong? And would you want that person to be kicked up to your manager? (I've seen the former, at any rate. And perhaps we've all seen managers like the latter. Don't think I've seen both in the dba space.)

I have seen people fail simply because they've come from a CYA environment and don't know any other way. But it's not really a problem because there are plenty of such places for them to go to.

Being an honest admit-it-and-move-on person doesn't work in a CYA environment unless you can change the local environment. Such mixed-mode places can be interesting. I've seen it happen where since the damager is used to dealing with those outside his domain as being CYA, they feel they have to treat outside support organizations (like Oracle) in a heavy-handed manner, as though that is going to make things get fixed faster. Even though they treat their immediate subordinates properly when they admit mistakes. Very strange. Yet another reason I don't want to go into management.

(How many times per minute must I do word verification, anyways?)

Peter K said...

So true, it is usually the cover-up that gets you anyhow (think Martha Stewart, Watergate, etc).

One way of looking at it is to say that the company had just spend $x (amount of loss caused by mistake) training that employee so that they know not to make the same kind of mistake again.