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I need help explaining to the supervisors in my organisation that they should not take action every time they discover their staff have made a mistake.

mattpalmer's picture

Whatever your reason is for not having them take action every time, tell them that.  If you *don't* have a clear reason for telling your supervisors not to do that, then you really shouldn't be asking them not to.  Personally, I think that as long as they're doing it respectfully and constructively, there's no reason they *shouldn't* do it -- especially if it's coupled with an appropriate volume of affirming feedback when people are doing things right.

donm's picture

The whole purpose of feedback, positive or negative, is to take a small action nearly every time something is noticed to prevent the incorrect results or to continue the good results. Remember the driving-a-car analogy about feedback: If you don't give constant small corrections, you either end up doing a large, violent correction or going off the road.

So, you and your supervisors should be seeing the behavior that is causing the mistake and providing feedback about the behavior. Don't forget that it is more important to laud the correct behavior than to nitpick the faulty behavior.

"CIOSF?" Sure.

"When you do this, the results are correct. Keep it up."

mjpeterson's picture

This reminds me a something I saw at the driving range a couple of weeks ago.  Next to me was a father and son.  The father was trying to coach his son on improving his swing.  So what did he do?  As some of you many know there are 100 different ways to screw  up a golf swing.  It appeared that the father was trying to get through the whole list.  After each swing the son made, his father would tell him a new way to improve his swing.  After 20 minutes, he was trying to remember 20 different things he should do as he swung the club.  I doubt he made any improvements that day. 

I'll contrast this with the feedback and coaching I get on golf.  Cal, my coach, tells me just one or two things to focus while I practice between lessons.  I am sure there are 20 other things he would also like me to work on.  However, he knows that I cannot focus on all those things.  He decides what are the one or two things I most need to change to improve and then gives me feedback on those things.  And...It works!  Slowly I am getting better.

It also makes practice easier.  I don't worry about the other things I could work on, but can focus on just the most important. 

A suggestion.  Instead of asking them not to identify the mistakes ask if they can tell you what is the most critical mistake that needs fixing.  Another approach is to assume the reason for all the errors and mistakes is systemic and ask is there something about the system that can be changed to reduce the opportunity for errors and mistakes.