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The Oscars: How We Handle Mistakes Shapes Our Culture

February 27, 2017 / Employee Experience

More than 32 million viewers tuned in on Sunday night to watch the 89th Academy Awards on ABC. However, due to a mistake, and the power of social media and news outlets, millions more are now aware of the mix-up between the best picture award with “La La Land” and “Moonlight”. How you handle mistakes, however big or small, shapes the culture and the reputation of those involved. For example, when Jordan Horowitz from “La La Land” was mid-acceptance speech and heard the news, he politely and respectfully acknowledged the error stating, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight’.”

His ability to gracefully handle the bad news shifted the moment from one that could have gone terribly bad to one of mutual respect and understanding given the unpredictable turn of events. Often the moments that shape us the most are during moments like this – whether or not a crowd is watching.

3 Ways To Handle Mistakes To Cultivate The Right Culture

  1. Proactively address the mistake
  • By recognizing there was a mistake and addressing it respectfully and transparently, we convey that we care about the other parties involved and want to be honest and clear about what happened. This lays the groundwork for both parties to discuss what happened and move forward on the right foot.
  1. Lead by example
  • The way you handle a mistake afterwards impacts not only your own character, but the organizational culture as well. Nobody likes a sore loser when things go wrong. By showing others you can be a good sport when a mistake is made, you display mutual respect and courtesy towards your colleagues. Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty also led by example by staying positive about the error and didn’t point fingers to blame anyone.
  1. Learn from your mistakes
  • We are all human and mistakes are a part of life. It is equally important to learn from every mistake and take steps to avoid the same issue in the future. By maturely recognizing an error was made and objectively assessing what went wrong, you are able to show others that you are a leader who isn’t afraid to learn and grow. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm that oversees the counting of the Oscar ballots has promised to investigate the error as well as how to make sure this error doesn’t happen again.

The Oscars have taught us an invaluable lesson: How we handle mistakes shapes our culture going forward. By proactively apologizing, leading by example and learning from your mistakes, you’re embedding values of respect, trust, authenticity, and humility into your organizational culture.

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