Learning & Development

What Would You Do if an Employee Made a $600,000 Mistake?

happy employees

You might have already read our recent article on how to reduce mistakes at work. In a nutshell, we explained that the secret to reducing mistakes at work, is allowing mistakes at work.


But what if that mistake costs your company $600,000? Do you take the same stance, or do you take special measures considering the gravity of the situation?


I’m going hand this question over to Thomas John Watson Sr. – the former CEO of International Business Machines. Why? Because not only was he a hugely successful businessman, but also because this exact situation happened to him:


“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. “No”, I replied. “I just spent $600,000 training him – why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”


• Thomas John Watson Sr., IBM


Are Mistakes Setbacks or Learning Curves?


This quote by Thomas John Watson Sr. is one of my favourites by far. And his advice is absolutely worth listening to – at least in my opinion, anyway.


Can you imagine firing an employee who’s just cost your company a huge sum of money, only to have your direct competitor hire them and benefit from the lessons that mistake taught them? It’s almost like paying another company’s training costs!


So what do you think? Are mistakes setbacks or learning curves?