When Your Employees' Transgressions Become Your Own

By Desiree Yang

A company’s employees are a reflection of management and their unique brand of leadership – they are essentially the management’s responsibility. Hence, when an employee makes a mistake, a portion of the blame will always land squarely on the shoulders of management no matter the nature or severity of the blunder.

And since it is near impossible for managers to be aware of every single thing that goes on in their department – especially if it is a large one – it is indeed a bitter pill to swallow when they find themselves having to answer for their employees’ missteps. Fortunately, there are practical steps that managers can take to tackle such sticky situations.

Getting a Handle on the Situation

Depending on the nature and magnitude of the mistake made, an employee may or may not be dismissed from the company as a result of it. In any case, the important thing is for management to address the issue openly together with the employee in question and his or her colleagues. This will facilitate a common understanding as to what went wrong and why it was unacceptable.

Managers can also make an effort to propose alternative solutions, thus ensuring that everyone learns from the episode. If the mistake did indeed lead to the dismissal of the erring employee, it’s also important for managers to ensure that the process is transparent and that the rest of their employees have a clear understanding of why such a drastic course of action was necessary.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

But instead of struggling to put out the fire, why not prevent it from breaking out in the first place? Companies won’t have to worry about having to do damage control or manage public relations following an employee’s mistake if they already have company policies or practices in place that will help keep employees on the right track. And of course, having clear communication channels between management and the employees is vital for ensuring success and effectiveness. To begin with, companies can start off by establishing company policies that clearly outline what is expected of employees’ behavior and conduct in the workplace.

Managers also need to actively enforce company policies and be consistent and fair when doing so. This means addressing mistakes that employees make the first time around and ensuring that the same is done for all employees. In addition, managers can work towards building a culture of accountability in the company, which will require close collaboration between management and the employees. On the part of managers, they need to communicate how they see accountability happening in the workplace – whether it’s through the provision of regular updates on work progress or just fulfilling all aspects of one’s job scope and meeting all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – and explain why it’s important.

Checking in Regularly

It’s also imperative that managers walk alongside their employees, which means encouraging those who have demonstrated good accountability and helping those who are struggling to do better. This can be done through one-on-one discussions, which have the added benefit of helping managers stay engaged and connected with their employees.

These private discussions can also provide an opportunity for managers to find out how their employees are doing and if there are any outstanding issues that need to be addressed. In the long run, such dynamics will ultimately help employees know that they can always approach their managers if they ever have problems or difficulties at work. This helps managers stay on top of any potential issues that may arise in the department, and minimises the chances of suddenly being saddled with the unexpected responsibility for a mistake committed by one of their employees.

What are some other ways in which management can handle employees’ transgressions? Share with us in the comment box below!

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