It was after office hours, one of my friends received a call that his subordinate had done a blunder in the operation procedure. The consequence was an extra cost and probable late delivery of the project. This was the first information received by my friend. His junior had left for home by that time. My friend was under full stress as he needs to give an answer for this blunder to higher management. He called his subordinate and briefed him about the first information. His junior was also in full stress, even more than the level of his boss because he was directly involved in the matter.
I also had gone through such stressful situations several times in my professional life. When we are a beginner in our professional life, then at that time our main focus area is learning the new systems. Even if we conduct any mistake, then our seniors are there to support & guide us.
“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” – Kahlil Gibran
‘As a kid, you can make mistakes but as an adult, nobody ignores your mistakes.’ The problem starts when we had experience. With experience, it’s obvious that our own expectations rise. If we commit any mistake then we feel stressed. If we are not good at managing stress at the workplace, then we landed up having heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, accelerated aging, etc. For such diseases, we need to take almost daily medicine for a lifetime. We need to visit doctors more frequently for health check-ups. Even some of the young executives had heart attacks in those stressful situations. Are we ready for that? Or can we change our future?
I have seen one executive in high rank, who used to be a very enthusiastic and charming person. As a business strategic movement, he had been transferred to the business unit located in a different country. That unit was running at a loss for several years, and management was having good faith in the capabilities of this executive to make that unit a profitable center. He did that in around three years’ time. But during this phase, he had been gripped by stress-related diseases. He has achieved the company’s goal but badly deteriorated his health.
When we receive the first information and if found our involvement in that mistake or blunder, our stress level rises exponentially. This time period is an uncertainty zone (perceptions based) as we are not having facts till this time. We started perceiving the situation as stated by the person.
Later on during the analysis phase of the blunder, as time passes our stress level started reducing even though that blunder remains continue. This period is called the fact zone (reality), we gathered all the related information to take a further course of action. Overall, we along with our team working out the solution for that blunder. As we are working out the solution, so our stress level comes down. Sometimes we find the easy & quick solution or sometimes it is a complex & costly solution.
Just do your own analysis of stress, which arises due to any major crises which you had faced in past. You will even laugh at yourself that ‘why were you having such high stress at the beginning’ and later on you only reduced your stress dramatically. At least I used to had such feelings several times. If we remain in a stressful mindset, then we shall not be able to work out the best solution to come out of that crisis.
You can do an immediate visualization like, how this situation looks after 2-3 days. You will either be in the middle of a solution or you might have already resolved the issue. With this, you will feel relieved. This works each and every time. Your focus must be on the solution rather than dwelling on that blunder continuously.
How Can We Avoid It
As a human being, you cannot avoid problems, mistakes,s or even some blunders in life. They keep on coming. But have you noticed that none of such issues remain unsolved in past? Each and every complex issue had been solved by an individual or team to some or great extent. It’s not the problem or issue, which creates stress but our own reaction to that. We cannot control stressful situations but we can very well control our own reactions.
Now let’s continue above case of blunder by my friend’s subordinate. The person who had given the first information concluded that this blunder was done by that subordinate. My friend got stresses for initiate 2-3 hours then what he did was this –
- He made up his mind to own that blunder. The moment he did this, he was relieved & his mind was ready to do root cause analysis to avoid that in the future.
- He started collected the facts
- During this course, it came out that the blunder was not because of subordinates, but due to another department.
- That department head own that blunder when it was discussed with him
In fact, when we got the very first information about any issue, try to absorb it fully before being panic. On several occasions, I have seen that there was a vast difference between the first information and final conclusion.
Strategy to Adopt
- Be ready to own it – if things are being pointed out toward you or your department, then at the very initial stage just be ready to admit the mistake or blunder. At this stage do not panic and also avoid catastrophic consequences in mind.
- Do a quick visualization – Just visualize the situation after few days, you will be relieved with the outcome.
- Be ready to resolve it – Once you admit, then find out the root causes. Keep in mind that you are doing this to avoid such mistakes in the future. Once you find out the root cause, then do whatever it takes to correct it. You may need to go beyond your role & responsibility boundaries. Facts should prevail at this stage.
- Provide a documented solution or system correction to answer ‘How can you or your colleague avoid that in the future?’ This step will be very useful with respect to the organization’s sustainability.