As HR pros, we all make mistakes.
Or say the wrong thing at the right time.
Or misjudge a situation from time to time.
But not everyone in our profession will confess to their screw ups — especially in stressful situations where the stakes are high.
However, I learned a very important lesson early in my career at Quaker Oats.
As a young HR director for a tiny division of the company, I reported to an amazing boss who relied heavily on my judgment and experience.
She had taken a chance and promoted me into the director role largely because of my relationships and knowledge of the organization.
But the job was a stretch for me and a bit over my head.
She knew it and I knew it.
But she was willing to roll the dice and bet on me.
So, I didn’t want to let her down or make her regret her decision.
* * *
But on one occasion, I had a horrible lapse in common sense and fell short of her expectations.
I really screwed up a very complex employee theft investigation and termination case.
My crime was that I didn’t involve our legal department and I didn’t ask all the right questions.
And as a result, I didn’t gather all the evidence we needed to reach a clear conclusion about the employee…who had been accused of theft twice before.
And my boss went absolutely ballistic!
She immediately called me on the carpet and demanded that I explain my error in judgment.
My defenses reared up. My pride and my aggressive instincts all screamed: “Fight! Defend yourself. Think up a good excuse.”
Thankfully, in a moment of sanity I took a more sensible approach. Here’s what I said…
“I was wrong. I’m sorry. I know that I still have a lot to learn in this role. Please let me fix it.”
* * *
Apparently, this reply from a young, cocky HR professional was not what she expected.
I’ll never forget the expression on her face: surprise, confusion, acceptance, and something that may have been… admiration.
In that moment, I knew I’d done exactly the right thing.
And as a result, I pushed the re-start button and immediately got our legal team involved.
And together with them, we mapped a detailed strategy to dig deeper into this case.
It was very hard work, but they were terrific. And I felt personally embarrassed by my initial attempts to do this all myself…trying to be the hero.
In any event…
When we finally completed a thorough investigation and presented our evidence to this employee — who had been a complete, utter jerk throughout the entire process — he broke down and. . .
Source: Success in HR