After Melania Trump gave her speech at the Republican National Convention, it was soon learned that a portion of her speech had been lifted, word-for-word, from a speech that Michelle Obama gave at a prior Democrat National Convention. Soon the media was all a-buzz about the plagiarism with many wondering how much political damage it would cause the Trump campaign.
Meredith McIver took responsibility for writing Mrs. Trumps’ speech and offered her resignation to the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign refused her resignation, citing that it was an innocent mistake and that people often “learn and grow from these experiences”.
Mr. Trump was right to not have accepted McIver’s resignation. Based on the statement she put out, I can see how the mistake was made. But what I really like is that Ms. McIver took full responsibility and did the right thing by offering her resignation. It takes character and maturity to do this – especially when the entire country is watching.
Business is tough enough when employees minimize their mistakes, exaggerate their value and dodge taking responsibility for the outcomes of their work. Time and again, I have bumped into people in business who do not take responsibility for their words or actions, something that top performers never do. Ms. McIver is a top performer, in my book, not because she avoided making a mistake, but because she took responsibility for making her mistake. And she did it publically.
Right now, I’m working as an Interim CEO for a $23M distribution company here in the Twin Cities. Within my first week on the job, the Controller came to me and told me that she had made a mistake in the 4th quarter of last year and that meant that our year-end financials had to be restated. This mistake would negatively affect the company’s ability to secure financing. She was clearly shaken and embarrassed and she profusely apologized.
I told her to not worry about it. Why? Because I would be much more concerned if she didn’t take responsibility and didn’t consider it a big deal. What employers really want – at least the good ones – are employees who take responsibility for their words and actions and are willing to apologize when appropriate. It takes some humility and maturity to do this, but top performing employees usually have both.
So, if you want to be a top performer – a person with character, maturity and some humility – take a page out of Ms. McIver’s example or even our humble controller. Let your bosses know that you’ve made a mistake. Own it. Offer to participate in the appropriate remedy – even if it means offering your resignation. Then take your lumps and move on with your life. Don’t let it get you down. Remember that the *only* difference between those who are successful in business and those who fail at it is that the ones who succeed got up one more time.
If you’re an employer or Christian Business Owner when one of your employees screws up, respond with openness, graciousness and kindness. If it is a fire-able offense, then treat it as such. But if it is an innocent mistake – even if it costs you loads of cash – think twice before moving to terminate an employee. Remember what Christ has done for you and ask the Lord if you shouldn’t go ahead and extend some grace to your employee who was acting in good faith, but still made an innocent mistake.