How does your organization deal with mistakes?

There’s the story about a top salesman in the aircraft industry who messed up. He lost a $5,000,000 contract. At his desk the next morning he starts going through his papers – tidying them up, clearing his desk. He gets a phone call from his manager,

“Have you got 5 minutes? ”

“Sure” he mumbles and slowly makes his way up the stairs to his boss’ office.

As he enters the room he says “Look I know I got it wrong – I’m sorry – I’ve written my letter of resignation – here it is ” and puts it on the desk.

His manager looks at the letter, rips it in half, rips it in half again and puts it in the bin.

“You must be joking” she says smiling ” We’ve just spent $5,000,000 on your training – there’s no way you’re leaving until you’ve made that back for us.”

Source: Learning, Trust and Making Mistakes by Byron Kalies

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  1. Hi,

    Your site and stories therein never fail to amaze me – wonderful insights. Stories have been an important form of learning and perhaps one of the most powerful tools. I remember stories my granny used to tell me when I was a kid. For management learnings, your site plays this important role in extending management lessons in form of simple stories. Great job.

    On dealing with mistakes, I write a recent post which talks about how to deal with people when they make mistakes.

    People are not human robots. They will make mistakes. A manager’s true measure is the way he treats his people when they make mistakes.

    Keep writing!!


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