Don’t act the Darth Vader way! How to deal with employee mistakes!

Don't act like Darth Vader!Photo: nevenm/ Resource:

Don’t act like Darth Vader!
Photo: nevenm/ Resource:

How do you handle mistakes of your employees? It can be a tricky situation!

We all are human beings and we learn by making mistakes. Noone wants to be treated by a “Darth Vader Boss”.

How can you as a leader create a failure tolerant culture without allowing your employees to make lots of mistakes? Mistakes which may compromise safety and security of your company?

I’d like to give you 3 tips how to deal with employees making too many mistakes…

Don’t act the Darth Vader way!

If one of your employees made a blunder, you cannot just act like Darth Vader. It doesn’t really help grabbing your employee by the throat and applying the death grip.

You may laugh but lots of managers act in this way. They shout on their people, they embarrass them in front of others and they establish a culture of fear.

That is totally counterproductive. You want your people to feel comfortable taking risks and making decisions on their own. But that is only possible if you created a collaborative environment and not a culture of fear.

No one wants to be blamed!

Acting the Darth Vader way comes with another big problem: If a failure happens, no one wants to be blamed. Your employees might even decide to hide the failure and keep it from you.

They are afraid. No one wants to be grabbed by the throat, right? So, in the end you even do not know if and what mistakes happen. You are cut off from important information inside your company.

So, you better create a culture of trust and failure tolerance.

Tips how to deal with employees making mistakes!

I’d like to give you 3 tips how to deal with employees who make many mistakes – maybe too many. Because that can really hurt your business and it frustrates coworkers.

1. Focus on the problem not the person!

Give your employee the chance to explain what happened. Try to understand why he or she made the mistake. Don’t jump to quick and easy conclusions but try to really understand what happened.

2. Take care, that the mistake does not happen again!

Ask your employee what needs to be done, that this mistake will not happen again. What support does he or she need?

3. Check if you expected too much!

You decided what task your employee is in charge. If he or she fails often your judgement was wrong. You’ve chosen the wrong person for the job. He or she is not a good fit with this particular task or project. You need to search where the employee fits better in your company.

Extra Tip

I’d like to add this very important tip. Especially if you get emotional about a failure:

Avoid embarrassing people in front of others.
Praise your employees in public but discipline always privately!


  • Bernd,
    Interesting perspective. It’s certainly helpful as a leader to examine not only why a particular initiative has gone awry but also perhaps what decisions you may have made in terms of assigning the right person to the right role. In fact, managers who simply look to blame may be missing an opportunity to further identify the reasons things go wrong and to make needed corrections.

    • Thanks Heather. Unfortunately I have seen too many of these kind of managers especially in the corporate world.