You Screwed Up? Yay!

A few years ago, we were transitioning from one HRIS to another. To save time and a little money, I was sent to training for a week then brought back to create internal training for our staff on the relevant areas. I combined screen shots of the system with scans from the manual to prepare my sessions. But I forgot to add a section on the error messages in my preparation. So I didn’t have any examples to share with the group when we got into discussion about that. Yikes! I assured them that I would pull that information together and send it to them within a week.

A few days later, I got a call from one of team …

“I think I made one of those errors . There’s some kind of flame icon next to the date I just entered. What do I do?!?”

“You got a burning bush???”

(I’m sure that wasn’t the official name but that’s what I called it)

“You sound excited? I screwed up.”

“I know!! That’s great. Send me a screen shot!!”

Sure enough! He sent over a screen shot of a new record he’d entered with a flame next to it. The flame indicated the effective date was a mid-period change and could not be accepted.

I called him back and walked him through the correction. Then I asked if it was OK if I shared the error with the rest of the team so they could see what it looked like and learn how to fix it.

He hesitated.

I promised I would black out and crop out any information that could indicate it was his error in the example.

He still hesitated.

I explained that I’d caused a lot of burning bush errors when I first started. He had nothing to be embarrassed about and no reason to feel discouraged.

He agreed to let me use his error to teach the group.

Whenever we are learning something new — and at times when we’re doing something we’ve done a thousand times before — we are bound to make mistakes.

Perfection isn’t required. Consistent and sincere effort is.

Don’t be afraid to makes mistakes. Don’t be afraid to let others learn from your mistakes.

You screwed up? Yay! Now someone else doesn’t have to.

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3 Comments

  1. I am a big fan of the “yay! you screwed up!” Failure is how people learn. Having an environment that allows people to openly share their mistakes helps others learn from them, and can build camaraderie.

  2. Liked this one a lot!

  3. Definitely agree with you and with you YAY. Actually it is very important to fail and learn from mistakes, someone once said “if you don’t fail you will never learn” – wait maybe that was me 🙂 but you got the picture!

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