How to deal with an ‘Oscars’ style mistake

May 15, 2017 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

Whether in our private or professional life, we’ve all made mistakes, but some are worse than others. Back in February of this year the Oscar’s featured a particularly embarrassing mistake where Warren Beaty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for the Best Film award. If you haven’t seen the footage, click here to see some excruciatingly embarrassing scenes, where the wrong winners actually come up on stage and start their speeches, before the mistake is revealed.

The mistake turned out to be the fault of Price Waterhouse Coopers, the firm of accountants who are responsible for counting the votes and making up the winners envelopes. The blame finally landed with PWC supervisors Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, who oversaw the counting procedures. The two went into hiding after their mistake was revealed and PwC gagged them to prevent any further negative publicity. Finally the two were removed from any future Oscars duties, but both retained their positions at the company and PwC will continue to operate as vote counters for the Oscars.

It is unlikely that most professional mistakes will garner the kind of publicity that PwC received, but they can still be very serious and damaging for your business. If a member of your team makes a big mistake, it can be hard to know what to do. So here’s my advice:

Stay Calm
If one of your team comes to you with a mistake they have made the most important thing is to stay calm. Now is not the time to get angry or panic. It is a good sign that your team feel confident that they can come to you rather than try and cover things up.

Figure out the worst case scenario

Together with your team, figure out what the results of the mistake are likely to be. This will enable you to form a plan to minimise or rectify the issue.

Take action (quickly) to resolve the problem
Immediate action is essential. One of the factors which exacerbated the problem at the Oscars was that although the PwC team must have realised the mistake as soon as it was read out, they let the situation continue. Quick action can often prevent the effects of a mistake, or at the very least minimise them.

Create an action plan to prevent future occurrences

If one of your team made this mistake it is likely that others could too. Put into place an action plan which could prevent future errors. Ensure that the process is rolled out to all team members who could be affected by such a problem.

Consider Disciplinary Action

Depending on the nature of the mistake it may be that you need to take some kind of disciplinary action. However in most circumstances mistakes made at work do not require any formal action and as long as they are dealt with quickly and efficiently you are your team should be able to move on.

It’s important to remember that as team leader your response to mistakes will definite whether it is ok for your team to push boundaries and take risks, or whether they should toe the line, follow the procedure and potentially miss out on new or exciting opportunities. After all working creatively does have risk and can lead to errors, however it can also lead to growth and development.

The important things are to embrace the mistake, take action to fix it and learn as much as you can before moving forward.

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Alan Adair

Contact Details

Alan Adair

Extra Dimension
Helping you and your teams to be more engaged, motivated and effective.

21 Pelican House
Stone Close
Poole
BH15 4GE

Tel 01202 830047

Email alan.adair@extradimension.co.uk

Website
www.extradimension.co.uk

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