Last week the CIPD ventured into football territory by issuing all its members with a Yellow Card.
And the crowd went wild.
Principally because the new membership card, designed to reduce plastic usage, was so flimsy it tore upon removing from the covering letter and looked a lot less professional than members wanted.
Many took to social media to complain, and in the end David D’Souza recorded a short explanation and apology to all, which I thought was a nice move.
We all make mistakes. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human.
Sometimes we make big, public mistakes like this one too.
I remember once bringing in a new payroll system in an organisation and getting everyone to check their own data that was being migrated from old to new systems as a bit of a data cleansing exercise. I asked the administrators to print out each persons data and give it to them to check, and so they did.
I kind of assumed the administrators would put such data in sealed envelopes, but they did not and the data was left on peoples desks, containing all sorts of sensitive and confidential information now visible to passers by and other colleagues.
Quite understandably, people went berserk at me.
A lot were quite abusive.
But, it was my fault. Whilst I’d assumed the administrators would bear in mind the sensitive nature of the data and package accordingly, I hadn’t specified this and, well, you know the danger with assumptions.
I owned up and apologised to everyone. I’d had the right idea, with a noble aim, but it was poorly executed. Just like DDS and the CIPD last week.
But it didn’t stop me feeling absolutely awful at the time and I sought advice from my late friend Clive Gott, who said to me something I remember and advise people about to this day, almost 15 years later.
He said that we live in day-tight compartments, and that each day is separately sealed off from the others. If a bad day occurs, it is thus sealed off and filed away and has no bearing on ones performance, behaviour and mood on other days.
He added that sometimes on really bad days we can live in hour-tight compartments with a similar principle. If something awful happens, seal it off and move on.
A bad hour, or a bad day, caused by a well intentioned but ultimately awful mistake, is no reflection on you as a human being or your ability to perform in whatever it is you’re doing. It’s sealed off and gone, and your proportion of great hours or great days far outweigh it. Even the number of average and uninteresting hours and days will far outweigh the bad ones.
What is a reflection on you as a human being and your ability to perform in whatever it is you’re doing, is how quickly you realise what’s gone wrong, how quickly you open up and apologise, and how effectively you’re able to seal off that hour or day. And how much you learn from it.
It’s an approach that works well for me, and I hope it’s worked for DDS and CIPD too last week.
That said, I don’t even think this mistake was the worst thing to happen to DDS in that week, as I watched Tottenham’s Champions League Final performance and think that was worse. So let’s put it all into perspective.
An honest mistake, well intentioned – trying to please everyone but ultimately pleasing no one – but well explained, a human apology, and attempts to move on and learn.
Let’s move on and learn.
Till next time…
Ps in other news, my wife has started her own freelance bookkeeping company. If anyone needs any bookkeeping or general accountancy support from a qualified Chartered Accountant, but not at Chartered Accountant rates, either get in touch with her directly at email@example.com or through me.