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[双语阅读] 你应该坦承一个错误吗?

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发表于 2010-2-26 23:18 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式


If the captain of the Titanic had not gone down with the ship, would he have blamed the iceberg for the disaster?

Probably not.

It would have been considered "dishonorable" for a longtime veteran of the sea like Capt. Edward John Smith to abdicate blame, says Carol Tavris, a social psychologist and co-author of "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts."

But today, she adds, accepting responsibility for our mistakes has become passé in politics, finance and the workplace in general.

Just look at the financial sector's collapse. Few have lined up to take the fall for Wall Street's fall.

Richard Fuld, a veteran of 158-year-old Lehman Bros., was CEO when the company collapsed in spectacular fashion in September. He testified before Congress recently and blamed the implosion on everything from short selling to the government. He maintained that his decisions and actions as the leader of the firm "were both prudent and appropriate."

It got me thinking about what a CEO, or even a rank-and-file employee for that matter, really gains by admitting a mistake and taking the blame.

Should you fess up or deny?

On the surface, it seems Fuld has little to lose, since he is walking away with nearly $500 million in compensation earned during his tenure at the company.

That said, there could be a hidden cost to admitting any error.

"What do we think of CEOs hiding from responsibility?" asks Angie Morgan, co-author of "Leading From the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women."

"Their personal integrity has gone away," she said. "Respect is the ultimate reward you can get as a leader."

In general, does it help or hinder a career to admit mistakes and take the blame? Should you fess up -- or deny, deny, deny?

There is no easy answer to these questions, experts say. It all depends on a number of factors:

· The gravity of the mistake you made.

· How you approach fixing or resolving the mistake.

· And most importantly, how understanding your managers are when it comes to screw-ups.

When Morgan was an officer in the Marine Corps deployed in Australia, she made some mistakes.

On one occasion, she sent two Marines under her command into the Outback without radios or any communications tools. When they didn't return that evening, she realized their lives could be on the line.

She immediately told her commanding officer her mistake.

"He then relayed the news via radio to units in the Outback, trying to locate the last unit that came in contact with my Marines. He utilized his communication channels to get a sense of where they were last seen, which allowed him to send out Humvees in those areas to try and locate them," she recalls. "His actions were immediate."

After the Marines were found, she adds, she and her commanding officer "discussed my role in the situation and what I should have done to ensure that the situation never had occurred in the first place."

Morgan learned a valuable lesson.

"When you acknowledge mistakes, you can start looking for solutions," Morgan says.

Lin Grensing-Pophal, an HR management expert, recalls one of her past employees who made a big blunder.

The employee, a copywriter, worked on a major direct-mail initiative for Grensing-Pophal that involved more than 250,000 mailers to promote a bankruptcy book to lawyers.

"I was sitting in my office one day when she came in with a copy of the brochure and announced: 'I've made a very big mistake.' She then proceeded to tell me that instead of listing the book price as $265.00 it was printed as $26.50."

But the employee already had an action plan. "She had looked into a couple of alternatives for correcting the error. We could reprint at a cost of X, or she had found a service that would affix stickers over the price to correct at a cost of X. She offered to have the cost of correcting the error taken out of her salary," she explains, adding that the company did not dock her pay.

Three things that impressed Grensing-Pophal:

· "She immediately came to me to admit her mistake."

· "In reality, this mistake was owned by several people. She was the copywriter, but the proofing process we had in place involved the product manager as well as a proofreader. She didn't even bring them into the picture -- she took full responsibility."

· "She came in with a solution in hand. She didn't just dump the problem on me."

"Since then, I've tried to use this same approach whenever I make a mistake," she says. "Mistakes, in my opinion, are not opportunities to chastise or place blame, they're opportunities to learn and improve."

Learning from a mistake

That's something children are supposedly taught from a young age -- how it's important to learn from your mistakes. But alas, what they learn from how adults deal with bungles tells them a different story, says "Mistakes" author Tavris.

"They learn early on that making mistakes means you are stupid or incompetent," Tavris says.

That is the wrong approach, she says. "People who are able to admit mistakes don't see those mistakes as a reflection on their own character and ability," she says.

The ability to admit a mistake may also depend on your own conscience, adds Paul Facella, CEO of consulting firm Inside Management.

"I think it depends on your own tolerance. If you can live with yourself and sleep at night knowing you made a mistake, more power to you," he says. "I would be waiting every day with bated breath wondering when the ax was going to fall."

Facella, who is also the author of "Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's," says he was lucky enough to work in an environment as an executive at the fast-food chain that made employees "comfortable" about admitting mistakes.

"In most situations, if people are honest and explain what they did, and it had no true malicious intent, then most organizations will acquiesce and like that," he says.

It's all about weighing the consequences. "You can't be stupid about this," he advises. "If it was an honest mistake and your appetite for holding something like that back is not strong, I would go with your gut, pick a time and place, and explain it to your managers."

Tony Simons, author of "The Integrity Dividend," says it's generally wiser to accept collective blame. "If you can get everyone around the table to say, 'We all screwed up,' that's really nice," he says. "In most big organizational foul-ups, there are lots of people that fouled up."

Legal implications

Part of the issue today when it comes to accepting blame, he continues, is the legal implication of doing so, which could mean everything from a loss of bonuses or even jail time.

Tavris believes the fear that you'll be fired or derail your whole career for telling the truth, however, is overblown.

"If you are a good employee, hard-working and care about the quality of your work, and make a rare mistake, then I think admitting it is the best thing to do," she says, so long as you offer corrective measures when you disclose the fumble.

And accepting blame may actually help your career.

"People like working for someone they can trust," Simons says. "And if you have an employee who tells you they screwed up, then you know you can trust them."

There's a payoff on both sides, he says. But, he stresses, "It's na?ve to say telling the truth will always serve you well. You have to be able to read if those around you, and the company you work for, are worthy of the truth."



 

如果铁达尼号的船长没有随船沉没,他会责备造成这场灾难的冰山吗?

可能不会。

社会心理学家,同时也是《已经发生的错误(但不是我造成的):为什么我们为愚蠢的信念、糟糕的决定、有害的行为辩护》一书的合著者卡罗· 泰吾瑞斯认为,像爱德华· 约翰· 斯密斯船长这样一个经验丰富的老船长放弃责备其它原因是不值得的。

“但是今天,”她补充道,“一般来说,在政治上、经济上和工作场所为我们的错误承担责任(的时代)已经成为过去了。”

只要看看金融部门的崩溃就知道了。只有少数几个人被找来承担华尔街垮台的责任。

理查德·福德,曾经是有158年历史的雷曼兄弟公司的一名老员工,当公司在(去年)9月令人震惊地倒闭时,他是一名首席执行官。他最近在国会证实,并责备卖空行为。。。他指出作为领导者,他的决策和行动“是审慎的和恰当的”。

这让我思考,对于那样一个事件,一个首席执行官,或者一个普通雇员,认识到所犯的错误,可以得到怎样的教训?并且要承担怎样的责任,

你应该承认还是否认?

表面上看,福德没有少掉什么。当他离任时,他轻而易举地取得了在他的任期内应得的近5亿美元的补偿。

那就是说,如果承认一个过失,应该有一个隐性的代价,。

“对首席执行官隐性的责任我们怎么看?”安吉·摩根,《站在第一线:女性的没有借口的领导战术》的合著者。

“他们个人的诚实消失了,”她说,“作为一个领导者,尊敬是你可以获得的最终的奖赏。”

一般来说,承认一个过失或负过失的责任,对事业的发展是有帮助还是阻碍了呢?你应该承担,还是否认、否认、否认?

专家认为,对这些问题没有轻松的答案,这完全取决于许多要素:

·你所犯错误的严重性。

·你怎样着手处理解决错误。

·最重要的,当问题发生时,你的主管对此的看法。

当摩根还是海军陆战队的一名军官时,她曾在澳大利亚时部署任务,就犯过一些错误。

有一次,她派两名队员深入澳大利亚的内陆地区,没有携带任何无线电或其它通讯工具。当天晚上他们没有返回时,她意识到他们的生命可能面临威胁。

她立刻向她的指挥官汇报了她的失误。

“他通过电台把这个情况转播到内陆的每一个点,试着确定他们最后到过的地方,他利用他的通讯频道确认他们到过的最后一个地点,他派出我们的军车到那些地点寻找他们,”她回忆到,“他的行动是迅速的。”

队员被找到后,她补充道,她和她的指挥官“讨论了她在当时状况下的角色,以及她应该如何做,才能确保这种情况从一开始就不会发生。”

“当你真正认识到错误,你就能开始寻找解决办法。”摩根说。

摩根学到了有价值的一课。

林·格雷森·波霍尔,一个人力资源管理专家,回忆她曾经的一个犯过一个很大错误的雇员。

这个雇员是一个文案编写人,在主营直递邮件的部门为格雷森-波霍尔工作,有一项事务涉及到超过25万个信件,需要推销一本破产手册给律师。

“某天,我坐在办公室里,她进来,拿着一本小册子并说,’我犯了一个大错误。’她继续告诉我,书本的价格应该是265美元,但印成了26.5美元。”

但她早已准备好了解决方案,“她已经找出了两种可供选择的解决办法。我们可以按成本价格重新印刷,这将花费X,或根据她找到的一种修正服务,可以重新粘贴上正确的价格,这将花费X。她提议重新粘贴的花费可以从她的薪水中支出,”她如此解释,并要求公司不要扣除她的工资。

这件事给格雷森·波霍尔留下了三个方面很深刻的印象:

·“她立刻到我这里来,并承认了她的错误。”

·“事实上,这个错误的发生归咎于几个人。她只不过是文案编写员,较对程序包括生产经理,也是校对者。她没有把他们拉进这个事件,而是独自承担了整个责任。”

·“她进来时就有了解决方案。而不是仅仅把问题扔给我。”

“自从那时,每当我犯错误时,我都会尝试用这种途径来解决问题,”她说,“在我看来,错误,不是严惩或者责怪的机会,他们是学习如何改进的机会。”

从错误中学习

孩子一般相信,当他们在很小时,从你的错误中得到教训是如此重要。但是,他们从成人身上学到的处理拙劣的工作的情形告诉他们不一样的事实,《错误》的作者泰吾瑞斯说。

“最早他们学到,犯错意味着你是愚蠢的,是没有能力的。”泰吾瑞斯说。

那是一种错误的认识,她说,“能够承认错误的人们没有看到那些错误是他们自己的性格和能力的一种反映。”

承认错误的动力取决于你自己的良心,内部管理顾问事务所的首席执行官保尔·法西拉补充道。

“我认为这取决于你自己的忍耐力。如果你犯了错,能够泰然处之,晚上睡得着,那你太有力量了。”他说,“我如果犯了错,就会每天焦虑地呼吸,担心斧子什么时候会落下来。”

法西拉,《我所知的从麦当劳所学到的关于商业的每一件事》的作者,他足够幸运,曾经在那样一个快餐公司担任一个主管,即使员工犯错,也有一个“舒适”的环境面对。

“在大多数情况下,如果人们诚实并且解释清楚他们所做的,而且确实没有恶意,大多数组织会默认并容忍。”他说。

这全取决于权衡结果。“你不能对此头脑迟钝,”他建议,“如果这是一个坦诚的错误,并且你的想要挽回的欲望没有那么强烈,我将鼓励你的勇气,挑一个时间和地点,向你的经理解释这一切。”

汤尼·西蒙,《诚实红利》的作者,称承担集体性的责任是一种聪明的做法。“如果你能够让所有人都围坐在桌边说,’我们都搞糟了。’那就太好了。”他说,

“在某些大的组织混乱中,有很多人犯错。”

法律含义

他继续说道,今天的部分问题是如果接受责备,就是法律含义上的,也就意味着红利的损失或者进监狱。

泰吾瑞斯相信,那些认为一旦说出真相,就将要面对解雇或结束职业生涯的恐惧是被过分渲染的。

“如果你是一个优秀的雇员,勤奋工作、注重工作质量,很少犯错,我想承认所犯的错误是最好的办法,”她说,只要你在暴露出问题的同时,提出改正措施。

承担责任可能实际上对你的职业生涯有所帮助。

“人们喜欢为他们信任的人工作,”西蒙说,“并且如果你有一个雇员老实告诉你他弄砸了,你就能相信他们。”

这样会有两种结果,他说。但他强调,如果认为说出真相将永远对你好处,那将是幼稚的。你要有能力判断那些你周围的人,你所服务的公司,值得你说出真相。

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