We all make mistakes. We have all also heard this phrase a myriad of times. A large part of running a business is making and owning up to slipups made by any employee within the company. No matter how detrimental an error can be, it is always beneficial for a business to react rapidly with an apology directly from the CEO or company itself. In an article from 37Signals, mistakes are described as moments in time that should be left unchanged. No one is perfect, unexpected events are bound to happen, and mistakes will always be made. Thus, it is important to always own up to faulty actions rather than attempt to erase or deny them.
In today’s highly connected society of social media, it is vital to recognize and own up to mistakes immediately after they are made, before rumors and assumptions escalate. We have seen examples of honorable yet also terrible crisis communication from companies all across the board: from Tylenol to BP to the most recent tweet-aster, KitchenAid. Without fail, the companies that are praised rather than abhorred are those that immediately and honestly own up to their mistake—the situation is explained fully and a plan is proposed for similar incidents that could occur in the future.
Slate has a weekly post owning up to minor mistakes made in their articles concerning improper grammar or false facts and information. Another great example of owning up to mistakes, as mentioned earlier, was an incredibly unprofessional tweet from @KitchenAidUSA about Obama during the Presidential debate. Almost immediately after the tweet was sent, the Senior Director of Marketing of KitchenAid went onto the company’s Twitter and apologized for what had happened. She apologized to Obama, her Twitter followers and everyone that was affected by the tweet. This response was a great example of effective crisis communication. She acted quickly and strategically.
Not only is important to own up to our blunders, it is also crucial to learn from them. As Jack Welch has stated, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” One huge source of learning comes from our own inaccuracies throughout our personal and professional lives. Making mistakes, learning from them and planning accordingly so they do not repeat themselves is a vital part of growth in a personal or business setting. This is especially true for start-ups. Start-up companies are continuously growing, learning more and more about themselves and their field with each working day. Learning how to bounce back and recover from a mistake is why they are worth making. Quoting Jack Welch once more, “I’ve learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success.”
Making our own mistakes and learning from those that were made before us is what keeps us innovating rather than backtracking. Life can be a game of trial and error: we learn what works and what doesn’t through failures and successes. By prohibiting your business to risk a few missteps here and there for overall growth, your company will likely remain stagnant in a continuously developing world.
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