Here’s a simple dilemma for you. You have just printed ten sets of hand-outs for a meeting. It’s a shame that they are needed but it is the format that has been agreed. Your boss is very ‘green’ minded and hates the use of paper in all its forms. Unfortunately, in your rush, you pushed the ‘Print’ button too quickly and they came out single sided and in colour, the worst possible combination.  Question: Do you a) Throw them away and re-print them double sided in low toner, black and white, pretending that it never happened? Or b) Keep them as they are and apologise during the meeting?

Your answer will clearly show how far you are prepared to go to cover up for your mistakes or admit to them. But more importantly it will reflect the kind of culture you are working in. Whether your organization or department readily accepts the fact that people are only human and can make mistakes (especially when they are in a hurry) or whether mistakes are simply not acceptable or expected and are hidden at all costs.

I far prefer to work and live in environments where honesty is always the most important criteria.  I find it very sad to see employees lying to cover up for their mistakes out of fear of ridicule or some other form of punishment. In our case, people repetitively making the same mistake would encourage the IT department to set all the printers to the right default settings and thereby help stop the problem form re-occurring in the first place.

I am now off to give my morning lecture. My hand-outs are all neatly printed, two up, double sided in black and white on non-bleached, 80 gram paper. Perfect!

Have a good week,