Mistakes happen during the course of organizational change: lack of communication, bad strategy, poorly aligned incentives, misdiagnosing of a problem, and other leadership bobbles. It can be tempting to smooth them over, make a course correction and hope nobody noticed. Or worse yet, let the change initiative fizzle out and disappear without explanation.
The trouble is, every day people give you permission as a change agent to mess with their jobs, their routines and their habits. They give you their time and attention to learn and try something new. And that is a privilege that must be earned.
If a mistake has been made that requires altering course, admit the mistake. Let people know what happened, what the new path is and how you plan to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Perhaps an apology is appropriate. Otherwise you wear down their resilience and their trust in you. Cynicism about change – and increased resistance to future changes – can occur when mistakes go unacknowledged by those who made them.
What mistakes might you need to admit?
Read more of the 99 Ways to Influence Change.