Make mistakes sharing part of your culture

No matter how much of a perfectionist, we all make mistakes – fact.  What we do with those mistakes can make a profound difference to the success of your Accountancy Practice.

All too often, we try to cover up the mistake, not admit to it for fear of being seen as incompetent. 

In my younger days I’ve been on the receiving end of rollicking’s from bosses and managers when a mistake has been made on my part.  This encourages the cover up mentality in employees.


Mistakes are a great team learning opportunity

Mistakes happen and should be considered a great learning opportunity, not just for the person who made the mistake but for the entire team too.  If one person made that mistake, others might too, they might also cover it up.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: Learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.


Imagine a culture whereteam members come together and openly share mistakes they’ve made without fear of judgement over their competency.  It takes courage and it takes an open minded team.

What if, when someone shares the mistake they’ve made that instead of being made to feel bad about it, the team focus on identifying ways to ensure that the same mistake can’t be made by building in checklist items or steps in a system?

What if, those discussions lead not only to preventing those mistakes from occurring but that they stimulate creative thinking that leads to overall better methods being implemented be it tapping in to technologies that are out there or simply coming up with a different way of processing jobs?


Creating this type environment has to begin with the boss. The Partner(s) of the Accountancy Practice. Otherwise it would look as though the Partner doesn’t make mistakes but is creating a learning environment for the team that does. This will suppress openness in senior team members and make everyone look to the more junior members of the team to volunteer their mistakes only as they will feel that the more senior, the more infallible they should be.


Ego may well get in the wayof this but I implore you to swallow your ego.  Personally I find that my team really get behind me when I openly share that I’ve made a mistake and they’re incredibly supportive in coming up with great ideas.

Show that you’re human, share your biggest mistakes with your team and open up discussions for improvements.  Put mechanisms in place that invite team members to put forward mistakes as well as ideas.  Anonymous or not.  And for reporting a mistake that perhaps someone else made.  Yes this may look like it’s creating a ‘tell tailing’ or ‘snitching’ environment but encourage impersonal, fact based reporting and keep conversations purely positive and around eliminating problems like that. Welcome all ideas, there’s no such thing as a bad idea since these often invoke a great idea.

Hold a weekly/fortnightly/monthly meeting where these are discussed in a positive, open manner. Ensure that action is taken from each to improve the system or checklist and not simply state, ‘let’s just be more careful in future’. 


Set rules around these discussions.Such as people can’t try to find out who did it.  People can’t voice a negative opinion around how that mistake could even happen in the first place. 

Most often, mistakes that are made can seem impossible to have been made when we examine them after the fact.  Most often these mistakes have happened because we’re under pressure. 

It’s important to determine the root cause of what led to the mistake rather than looking at the mistake in isolation. 


Share your thoughts about this, agree or not? Doing it already?

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