In life and in business, things will go wrong. Period. What you do to right the ship is what counts. In Part 1, we reviewed the key steps to take immediately following a breakdown. Today, we look at what a true leader does to help his team recover.

First – reiterate to your team member that mistakes happen. It’s part of life. It’s part of business. You followed the steps outlined in Part 1 and resolved the issue. It’s time for the debrief.

Second – retrace your steps. What happened and why? This must be recounted from an objective perspective. In other words, what happened cannot also include your commentary about what happened. “Just the facts.” If you’ve never done this, it can be a challenge, but it needs to be done.

Third – was this an anomaly or a breakdown in an established process? If it was an anomaly, examine the details and ask if something could have been done differently. If it was a process issue, ask how the process can be amended to improve it.

Fourth – sometimes people are just having a lousy day. A friend or family member may have been injured or worse. The customer could have just had a crappy experience with another company and have walked into their encounter with you still reeling from their previous conversation.

In the case where there is nothing to correct in terms of your actions or your process, what counts is emotional intelligence. Listening. Honestly responding. Having detached empathy so that you don’t get caught up in what they’re saying, but still have compassion for whatever your customer is going through.

Fifth – share the results with your entire team, not as a way to highlight your employee’s mistake, but as a way to help everyone grow and mature. Your staff will be better equipped to avoid future mistakes, and better equipped to resolve them quickly and effectively when they do occur.

Next installment: course correction.

A note: no employee or business owner should ever allow themselves to be verbally abused. A customer that swears at you or threatens you should be taken seriously, and the conversation politely ended.