Cost Analysis

Mistakes happen – learn to deal with them

December 27, 2013 

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard the following comment several times: “He/she should lose their job for that!” I’m not in human resources and frankly never intend to be, and I don’t think the people calling for people’s heads have been in that line of work either.

This message sort of goes hand-in-hand with my column from last week about people looking everywhere for reasons to be offended and it amazes me how many armchair personnel directors are out there.

We aren’t always talking about drastic offenses that draw ire. Not everyone has a Justine Sacco-like tweet about catching AIDS in Africa to get the pitchforks pointed at them. I was inside a fast food restaurant when a mixed-up order had an unsatisfied customer looking for the baby-faced teen to lose his part-time job.

We have become a society where mistakes are not tolerated, but it is sort of a bizarre way we look at which offenses are considered OK and which ones have masses looking for pink slips to be handed out. Say or do something moronic in a drunken or drug-addled stupor and people might actually side with you and take pity because of the addiction issues. Simply be a blue-collar guy who makes an offensive statement, and all hell breaks loose.

Have some clerk make an error that causes any difficulty at all and people think a firing is in order. Get a waiter who is a little slow and people want a head to roll. A Christmas package that you ordered two days before the festive holiday doesn’t arrive until the day after Christmas? Don’t blame yourself for waiting until the last minute, look for the guys who normally do a great job at expediting packages for dropping the ball on the busiest shipping day of the year.

It is bad when these are isolated incidents, but get a mob involved and it snowballs terribly. Take the flap over the “Duck Dynasty” saga. It isn’t enough that people were so upset that they called for sanctions to the show, you also have ancillary fallout. Cracker Barrel originally stopped selling “Duck Dynasty” merchandise immediately after the firestorm, but pressure from their customers made them reverse their decision. Now, GLADD, an advocate for gay rights and issues, wants sanctions in place at Cracker Barrel; They want executives to lose their jobs and are asking the public to boycott the restaurant.

To me, it seems to me Cracker Barrel is between a rock and a hard place here. Take action and you anger customers. Reverse course and you anger some group that will work to cost you future customers. It seems like a vicious cycle. Inevitably somebody then says or does something stupid that will cause the cycle to repeat and so on.

Whatever happened to the saying “mistakes happen?” I just wonder how people would feel if the standards they apply to others were to applied to them. I know I’d have been fired years ago and I have a pretty good performance history.

Firings don’t fix mistakes, but perhaps training does.

You can reach Scott at

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