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Coaching People Through Mistakes

Coaching People Through Mistakes

As a leader who wants people to learn positive lessons from mistakes, try following this sequence:

  1. Demonstrate respect for the other person. Show the person you care and that you understand everyone makes mistakes.
  2. Briefly share one of your own mistakes and thereby strengthen the trust between you and the other person.
  3. Ask one question and listen to the answer. Do not interrogate. Ask something such as, "How did this happen?"
  4. Ask another question and listen. This time ask, "How can you fix it?"
  5. Ask your final question and listen. "How can you make sure it doesn't happen again?"

The idea is to help the person learn by turning the mistake into an opportunity for improvement. By telling them about one of your own mistakes, you help to build trust and rapport. By asking questions that prompt the other person to think, you involve them in the process of identifying the problem, generating alternatives, and making a decision about what to do to minimize the costs and prevent the same mistake from being repeated.

Source: AMI's How-To Book Leading Teams: The Skills for Success.