Learning & Development

Turning Frequent Mistakes into Real-Life Training Opportunities

It can be tremendously frustrating to encounter the same mistake or oversight over and over again at work. Maybe it’s something as relatively benign as multiple employees forgetting to include certain information in their e-mail signatures, or maybe it’s something more serious, like repeated instances of employees downloading malicious applications or failing to follow data privacy procedures.

Managers and other colleagues who encounter repeated issues may be tempted to throw their hands up in frustration. However, repeated mistakes can be a great opportunity for training refreshers.

Use Mistakes as a Learning Opportunity

When mistakes are repeated, it makes it easier to identify patterns of behavior and, therefore, causes of behavior, as well as common factors. When a mistake is a one-off, it’s not always easy to isolate the key factors that contributed to the mistake.

Similarly, repeated mistakes begin to impact or at least reach the awareness of more people within the organization, which can help build institutional support for the need to make some adjustments.

Teachable Moments

For example, harping on employees to NEVER open links in e-mails from unknown senders might fall on deaf ears or get lost in a sea of company IT mandates that don’t have real-world context to highlight the risks the policy is trying to mitigate.

But if the organization can provide examples of specific instances that have occurred X number times over the past couple of years, along with the consequences of those errors, the message should have a much better chance of hitting home.

No company wants employees to repeatedly make mistakes, but it can at least provide an opportunity to make meaningful behavior changes; recurring mistakes make it obvious a change is needed and provide real-world examples of the factors that contribute to such errors and their consequences.

When errors occur repeatedly, leverage the opportunity for learning.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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