Apologize… and fix…

A critical test of a business is how it handles mistakes. Done right, you will have a customer for life. Done wrong, and you will lose them forever. 

That is what is so perplexing about Donald Trump – who never apologizes. As a “successful” businessman, you would think he would know better. But apparently not.

The latest fiasco with Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, the soldier killed in Niger, is just another in a string of self-inflicted wounds on his credibility, and that of the Republican party. It was only compounded with General Kelly’s added comments on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

The simple solution for both is to man up, apologize, and ask for understanding and forgiveness. Not “punch back” or lie about it. Simple apologies would solve the latest crisis.

This was not meant to be a political rant, but rather a learning moment. If you screw something up, apologize and fix it — fast — even if you feel you are not completely at fault, and even if it costs you. Think humility, not ego.

I’ve done so several times over the years. Here are three examples:

  • When we misspelled a company name on a report (not entirely our fault) we immediately reprinted several hundred copies at our expense. Lost money on the small project, but future work made up for it.
  • When a student was given the wrong hotel for a class (not even my mistake as I was a contract instructor), I arranged for a local room, transportation, and took him to dinner. He went from upset to grateful and happy.
  • When my company (as a sales engineer) shipped a lemon to a customer, I yanked it and replaced it. At first my boss was upset (we had “procedures”) but later praised me for the decisive action. The customer bought many more products from us.

As a consultant, your future business depends on your reputation. It’s easy — just follow the Golden Rule. If you make a mistake, don’t be a jerk — just apologize and fix it! 

P.S. Consider this a quick test. If you are upset that I stepped on your political toes, I suggest you forget about consulting. Ego will kill your business even before it starts.

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