How to Handle It When You Mess Up on the Project (and You Will)

by smartamarketing

By Mike Dunn

Guiding Principle: Always do the right thing based on an objective analysis of the facts – sans emotions.
Intent: If possible, determine if the screw-up was intentional or accidental.

People: Screw-ups are performed by people who are individuals. Individuals are unique – it is sometimes best to handle the same screw-up differently with different people.

Attitude: Think about it, the normal tendency to express indignation is usually not the best approach. Threats may be appropriate for some scenarios, but should usually be administered in a ‘low key’ manner.

Calibration: Carefully assess where the incident falls on the “How much does it really matter scale”.

Situational Analysis: Carefully consider timing and potential side effects. I am amused when a person in a restaurant throws a fit and belittles the waiter over an incorrect order. From what I know about the food and beverage business, I would not eat whatever the waiter brought back to fix the order.

Focus on the objective: Are you looking for only a short term solution or do you need a long and short term solution??

The above apply to both sides of a screw-up – when you [or your people] are the one who screwed up –

1. Immediately assess and understand the screw-up and the ramifications.

2. If possible, immediately come up with a recovery plan. Otherwise, get some folks working on it.

3. Immediately confess your sins without excuse. Ensure that you have covered #1 – an inaccurate confession could come across as an attempt at deception or that you do not know ‘what is going on’.

4. WRT #3, make sure that you go to the correct person first.

Mike Dunn is a Project Management Information Network Contributor (LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-Management-Information-Network-Practical-6618103). Resourceful Critical Thinker —- Problem Solver Extraordinaire – Houston, Texas Area. Computer Software

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