How You React to a Decision Making Mistake is the Real Mistake

How You React to a Decision Making Mistake is the Real Mistake

You know stuff happens. 

Even when your team does all it can to avoid screw-ups and mistakes.

The thing is — mistakes aren’t what will land you (and your credibility) in trouble with your public… It’s the knee-jerk reaction we all have to them that will actually make matters worse. 

Here are 3 tips to help your team handle inevitable mistakes.

1. It’s human nature to try to justify (even to ourselves) why the mistake happened, whose fault it is, why it wasn’t that big of a mistake (if one at all)…

How You React to a Mistake <br>is the Real Mistake

This is the real mistake.

Of course you’ve got to be careful in how you go public with acknowledging any screw-up, miscalculation, poor analysis, or serious error.  But giving in to the reflex to be overly-protective or defensive is guaranteed to make matters worse

So, rather than being “careful” in how you go public with a mistake, the better advice is to be “thoughtful” and not cave to human nature when you deal with your team’s mistakes.

We wish we could prevent you from dealing with any mistakes, but that simply isn’t possible, nor is it necessary. 

However, we’ll help you prevent those mistakes from damaging the public’s trust in you — and help you shape them into opportunities to deepen your credibility, even with the most cynical public.

2. Public Official? Don’t Act Like a Private Firm. Except When…

Even when you try you HARDEST to avoid mistakes…Embarrassing things still manage to happen. Even to the best teams.

Mistakes don’t discriminate, do they? They happen in public-sector, as well as private-sector organizations.

The question for you is:

How should folks like you, in the public-sector, handle mistakes?  Especially BIG ones… that your team caused?

When businesses mess up big-time, they hire a big name Public Relations firm.
These firms specialize in salvaging the company’s name, or saving the brand in face of the screw-up.

But what can you do when you work in the public-sector?
One of the few areas where our advice to public officials is similar to that of private-sector “crisis-communications PR experts”: Get the information out!
Don’t sit on it… Don’t DRIBBLE it out. Your team has to get the word out about your mistake immediately.

Since so little is shared between the private and public domains, we felt it was worth sharing this particular piece of parallel advice with you.

3. Hiring a PR Firm Can Backfire for Public Organizations

How You React to a Mistake <br>is the Real Mistake

You know what happens when a big corporation messes up. They hire one of the few Madison-Avenue PR firms with a reputation for knowing how to help clients who have been caught with their pants down.

Public agencies can’t really do that!

The trouble is, while the public doesn’t protest when a private-sector organization hires a spin-doctor (with the clear and obvious intention of “spinning” the public, saving face, and their image)…

That same public will NOT put up with a public agency doing the same thing.

No fair!

Double standard alert!

Even so, we have to admit that even we, as a citizens, don’t really want our government to spend our tax money to hire a “spin-doctor” to “spin” us.

Do you?

Yet mistakes happen, and your team needs to deal with them.

So how can you save your credibility with your public, when hiring a PR firm will only create more animosity and cynicism?

Is it a crazy “Catch-22” situation? What’s the best way to deal with it?

We explain the double-standard in more detail, including what you can do about your team’s mistakes in this month’s webinar.

Why You Need a Website Makeover (Your Most Powerful Public Communication Tool is likely Most Under-Utilized)

Consent-Building Clinic #74: November 10th, 2015:

“When our stakeholders don’t like how we do our work, they go straight to our policy-makers who – then – try to micro-manage our projects. It’s one thing to stand up to stakeholders, but how do we stand up to this?”

Several different dynamics are in play when a community – a community that’s made up of people who hold DIFFERENT values – decides to tackle problems as a community . . . be that “community” a town, a city, a state, a region, or a nation. In a quest to improve public-sector problem-solving and decision-making, there are those of us who forever pry deeper and deeper into examining those several dynamics..

We find it useful to organize the lessons we learn into topics, such as Values, Individual vs. Group Rights, Data Analysis and Modeling, Dealing with Uncertainty, Risk and Risk Communication, Communication and Involvement, Professional Ethics, Leadership, etc.

Today’s question cannot be addressed without invoking the topics of Professional Ethics and Leadership.

Your policy-makers ARE part of your “public,” and stakeholders ARE in the habit of end-running you by going straight to them. But, your policy-makers are a very special “public” . . . after all, “policy-makers” is synonymous with “decision-makers” . . . So, they CAN micro-manage – as well as macro-manage – can’t they?

As you’ll see, it’s not THAT simple; your ethical responsibilities as a professional, at times, includes LEADERSHIP.

Register Here


Consent Building Brownbag: Social Media is NOT What You Think it’s About

Brownbag #75: Dec. 8th, 2015:

“Our message tends to get lost in the media: When they don’t over-simplify, they tell a lop-sided, negative story.”

This is a well-justified complaint! . . . One reason this kind of thing is more than just a burr under the saddle is that the traditional media – in spite of the internet – is a terribly important communications vehicle.

As justified as the complaint may be, don’t bother . . . don’t bother wasting your breath on complaining. It doesn’t help.

We’ll focus on what you CAN do — OTHER than complaining – to start using the media as the fantastic communications tool they have the potential of being. On projects and programs where you’re affecting a very large public, you just about HAVE to use the traditional media as one of your tools, or you’ll never reach all the potentially affected interests that you need to reach.

Register Here