Making It Safe

No one is perfect! No matter how hard we try we will always make mistakes. Most teams don't tolerate it when someone makes a mistake and as a result the people are often fearful for the consequences that may follow. In order to help create a team that can adapt and adjust quickly, you want people to tell you if something is wrong, as soon as possible.

Inform the Team

As I mentioned above, your goal as a leader should be to create an environment where it is safe for someone to make mistakes. Now I don't mean that you shouldn't care and let people do careless things, but when people do make a legitimate mistake then you want them to speak up as soon as possible.

The reason I say this is the sooner that your team knows about the mistake, the faster, and more time, you have to correct it.

Focus on Finding a Solution

Instead of playing the typical blame game, focus on how the problem will be fixed. If need be, bring your team together and try to come up with a solution as quick as possible.

Once a solution has been found, your next step should be to try and find out what the root cause of the problem was. Often you will find that the reason the issue occurred in the first place, was because of a problem in the process. I'm not saying that this is always the case, but it often is. As a simple example, say one of your developers mistakenly ran a script on the production server that deleted a whole bunch of data. They thought they were connected to their local instance, so it wasn't intentional. The question you need to ask is :

Do they really need write access on the production server? If so, then you need to have functioning transaction logs to be able to recover the data as well as proper backup mechanisms in place.

Sometimes, you need to find a way to create safety nets to be able to easily recover from a situation instead of preventing it. It all depends on the situation at hand.

The Path Ahead

You know you have reached your goal of "making it safe" when people stop trying their best to hide their mistakes and hope that they never get discovered. This will take some time, but slowly as the team starts to trust you and sees that there is no "punishment" things will start turning around.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa