What are mistakes? Can small mistakes be ignored? Are bigger mistakes real mistakes? What is a tolerable limit for mistakes? These are questions you deal while mentoring/monitoring/evaluating people. Here are some of my experiences with (real) mistakes.
Before proceeding further, lets try to define mistake. Wordweb says, “A wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention is a mistake“. Wow, what a perfect but still wrong definition to mistake from practical perspective. With the complete post it will become clearer why I agreed to disagree with the above definition of mistake. IMO, mistake is :-
- Repeating the action even after recognizing it as a wrong action.
- Wrong action committed with self permission for self gain. (All shortcuts to fame and name can come under it)
- Being ignorant or inattentive with self permission resulting in a wrong action.
- not accepting/not recognizing the right cause of wrong action.
- unwillingness to learn the bigger lesson taught by previous similar actions resulting in another related wrong action.
Guide for Mentors/Project Managers/Leaders/Management/..
I have seen people creating list of mistakes by their juniors, staffs, team members for evaluation, mentoring etc. Sometimes we list/count mistakes that are not mistakes from practical perspective. Before I start putting more words under this title, here are few thoughts that I strongly believe in:-
- No Sincere person (who is committed for work and aims at the same mission if not vision) likes to commit mistakes but mistakes are inevitable for independent people. â€œAnyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.â€ says Albert Einstein.
- Mistakes often carries different dimensions to it, one dimension can make it look very ugly while other dimension can define beauty. Our junior programmer deleting the whole code while trying different commands is an example, he just wanted to learn and never wanted to delete.
- Often the gaps (knowledge gap, vision gap, power gap, communication gap) are responsible for mistakes. May be we call it mistakes due to system.
- Every senior is responsible for mistakes done by the junior/colleague. The learning/correction has to be recursive (deeper in system).
So as a mentor it is very important to understand the reason behind the mistake. Also such mistakes can help us in designing a better system (We shifted to SVN when we encountered code deletion by a dedicated junior programmer). Discouraging mistakes can discourage attempts and thus the chances of success too. I often make stupid mistakes but never regret for being stupid as I learn wiser things from my own stupidity. If I am often defeated by myself than I am surely on the right path of success.
Right course of action for Wrongs
I promised my parents and myself to give atleast 6 hrs of sleep everyday, so I will conclude my post here. There is no stone-written rule that can help us define the right course for mistakes. Following thoughts can help us take a better course of action:-
- Take a course of action aiming at a result. (For repeated mistakes by a team member: When you know you can’t fire that person define your course of action accordingly. When you know that anyway you will be needing a new person then define your course of action accordingly.)
- There will be bad apples everywhere but don’t leave your ethics/character for them.
- Tolerate mistakes but never tolerate bad attitude. Bad attitude is like a rotten root, you can’t expect a fruitful tree out of a rotten root.
- Communicate as often and as quick. 90% mistakes happens due to communication gaps, so communicate to transfer knowledge, to transfer vision.
- If a person is committed and is with the same vision then he/she can be molded rightly.
Good night, I still some have 7 posts under draft so keep watching.