What to do When You’ve Messed Up
When I Messed Up
The extended family had gathered. Cooking and chatter were going on. Adults were “catching up,” and children were running freely (and loudly.)
I watched from the dining table as my child went zipping from one hallway past the dining room and into another hall. I heard the sounds of a fall and crying. I said, “Get up and try it again.” Moments later, I listened to another fall thud and further crying. Another member of the family who was positioned in a place to see the second hall unhappily reported, “Well, she did it again.”
It turns out that what I assumed was my little girl falling was instead my child knocking her cousin to the floor. And she had dutifully done what I told her to do – she knocked him down again.
My mistake took some time to adjust. Tears had to be wiped, apologies had to be made, and better (more informed) instructions had to be given.
My mess-up was mild, handled in a few minutes, and still lives on in family lore. But when an error occurs on a construction site, that’s another story.
When You’ve Messed Up
Making a building error can turn into a substantial complication in the construction industry. From ordering the wrong materials to misreading blueprints, any misstep can potentially cause serious problems.
All contractors will make mistakes during their careers. Given that this is an unavoidable aspect of making thousands of decisions each year, how do you deal appropriately with such errors?
There are three appropriate steps to taking the problem head-on.
Let the Owner Know
Many contractors fear notifying owners of an error will decrease rapport and put them at a higher risk of receiving bad reviews or reporting to governmental agencies. Interestingly, that is not the norm. The more owners are notified of mistakes, the less they are inclined to react negatively. Not only are they more satisfied with being “in the know,” but they’re also more comfortable that you’re on top of the process and will handle it appropriately.
Notify the Rest of the Construction Team
Alerting the rest of the construction team of an error is not easy. It essentially demonstrates one’s fallibility to his or her colleagues and may result in considerable changes to the predetermined scope of the project. Still, these errors must be relayed to the rest of the construction team to better handle any immediate difficulties and reduce further problems.
Document the Error
To avoid further complications to the project, the error must be appropriately documented, reported, and adjusted or restored. By doing so, it avoids further complications.
Committing and dealing with a building error is one of the more humbling experiences in the construction industry. But when dealt with straightforwardly, the consequences are minimized, and the integrity of your construction business is upheld.
Reflection: Do you “own it” when you or a team member makes a mistake? What will you do the next time an error is made?
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