We Need More Mercy At Work

Mercy is a word that seems to not exist in the workplace, why is that? We are all human, therefore we all make mistakes. When you make a mistake don't you realize it and feel bad? You know you messed up, you are probably beating yourself up over what happened, recognizing where you went wrong. Then, you get copied on the email chain or overhear a conversation where people are talking about the mistake you made. Nobody will come out and call you names, but you can hear it in their voice and you are convinced that everyone thinks you are the biggest idiot working at your organization. Don't worry though, because the vultures will be circling their next victim because someone else will be making a mistake soon enough and they will forget all about you.

Choose to be different in your workplace:

  1. If someone else makes a mistake, support them, step in and ask if there is anything you can do to help them recover from it. If you were in that situation, how good would it feel to have someone step alongside you, so you didn't feel like you were all alone to fix your mistake?
  2. Relate a story about your own similar screw up. I love telling the story of when I was first programming how I helped developed a procedure at my company for having code movers to deploy changes to production. We needed that because I moved code out to our production server that brought all of the sites down, not once but twice...in the same day. Good people make mistakes and can recover from them just fine.
  3. Support them in front of others. This is key, when you hear others getting down on someone for a mistake they made, flip the conversation and remind people of what that person is good at and see if instead you can talk as a group of what you all could do to help make sure someone else doesn't make the same mistake again.

At the core, you have to believe in the best from everyone. If you believe that people are trying their best, you will have mercy on them when they do make a mistake. The work should be focused on how to prevent making the same mistake twice rather than condemning someone that makes a mistake the first time. If it is the type of thing that they should know, then shame on you for not taking the time to teach them up front and make sure they understand it. You have more responsibility in making the people around you better then many accept. Good people embrace helping others, especially when they fall down.


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