Recently, I was on a call with a former client of ours while they were telling me all of the things we screwed up, which ultimately led to them firing us. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and while I was imagining a million other places I would have rather been, I was right where I needed to be because they were right!
Among other issues, one complaint was that we recently shuffled their account to a new person in our office and the first communication they received from that new person was our monthly postage bill for around $20.
No, “Hello, my name is Mike” or, “I’m really excited to get to know you.” Just a regular invoice that they’ve received each month for quite some time.
You might read that and think it is a silly reason to fire your accounting firm, but I don’t think so. The reason is because we pride ourselves (and sell our services) based on the relationship we create with our clients and in this instance we failed.
And, I’m thankful that this former client took the time to actually tell me what wrong.
As leaders, it is easy to avoid the difficult conversations that occur when problems arise, but that shouldn’t be the case. Every time something bad happens in our organization, we look at is as an opportunity to get better.
We have gained a lot of valuable feedback simply by pressing into difficult conversations with a spirit of learning and we use that info to refine the way we operate. Our goal is to get one step better every day and highlighting our failures is one of the ways in which that is accomplished.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” but how do you go about finding the silver lining? Here are a few tips…
- Talk about your failures with your team. Do you want a team that is quick to brush failure under the rug? Probably not, so do not passively encourage this behavior by being silent about your own failures. When your team sees and hears that it is okay to discuss the bad things that happen in your organization, they will be more likely to share the issues they see.
- If you have the opportunity, pick a handful of the deals your sales team DID NOT close and call the prospect that said no and ask for feedback. This isn’t done to try and salvage a deal, but to learn what can be improved upon.
- Champion problem solving with your team. When something bad happens, and someone finds a solution, make a big deal about that person’s accomplishments. Not only does it encourage others to be problem solvers, but it reinforces that your organization is focused on making things right and moving forward.
Finally, remember that everyone makes mistakes. Grace is undeserved favor and as a leader, you are in a unique opportunity to show grace to your team every day.
Nobody likes working for a person that is always pointing out mistakes and tearing others down for their shortcomings, so don’t be like that. We point out mistakes with the intention of learning and improving.