One of my employees published a report with an incorrect fact - and cost us a client. It was an honest mistake and the poor guy is now a quivering wreck. How should I handle him?
Jeremy says: I'm assuming that this mistake was not one of many but an uncharacteristic first. I also assume that you rate this man highly and want to retain him.
If that's the case, write him a note, preferably not an email, headed 'Why I value you more than I did before you lost us a client'.
'I can't think of a single person who's become a senior and trusted executive without making a painful mistake.
'I certainly didn't.
'As a boss, I've learned to worry when up-and-coming people consistently fail to make their first mistake.
'I worry that they'll become overconfident and perhaps even careless and begin to be a little bit slipshod on a regular basis.
'And that's why I no longer have to worry about you.
'I'm not suggesting that you forget your mistake: far from it. But I am suggesting that you see it as I see it: no more than a single, honest error that's made you a more valued member of this company.
'With all best wishes ...'
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.
Image source: Florent Darrault/Flickr