blog-1One of the important takeaways for leaders from the FISH! For Leaders video series is that their employee’s mistakes can actually be opportunities to build relationships and trust. After Kathleen Flynn, a location Director for PSA Healthcare, attended a three-day FISH! For Leaders retreat, she shared the following story:

“Late afternoon last Friday my administrative secretary came into my office and said, “You are going to be so mad. I am so sorry, but I dropped the mail box key down the elevator shaft!” I asked, ”Did you get the mail first?” Yes, she replied.

“No big deal,” I said calmly, “We’ll just go to post office next week and find out what we have to do to get a new key.”

All weekend I thought about the situation and came up with a plan.

When I went back to work I asked one of the staffing coordinators to bring in a fishing pole with a large hook; her husband also suggested a weight. So in she came on Tuesday with the fishing gear. 

We proceeded to the first floor of the office building, me with the fishing pole, the staffing coordinator with flashlight in hand, and the CCC in charge of keeping the elevator doors open. I dropped the line with hook and weight down the shaft and started dragging for the key. I was so excited to reel in my first try, but it was only a dust bunny. The staffing coordinator kept giving tips, pointing out, “Too far one way, back, and so on.” All of a sudden the key nibbled, attached to the hook and we pulled it up. We tried to keep quiet so we didn’t scare off our catch! We netted the key and returned it to its bowl. The administrative secretary was so excited along with the staff.  We now have the pole leaning against the wall as a reminder of how much fun you can have at work while solving a problem.”

I guess you can say I was present for the problem, we came up with a creative, playful way to solve the problem, and we did it with a great attitude while making everyone’s day!”

As a leader, you can choose how you respond to mistakes, problems and even crises. Will you choose to respond in a way that strengthens relationships with your team members, as Kathleen did, rather than damaging them?