[aa_subtitle_display]When a high performing employee has a slip and makes a big mistake or fails at attaining a goal, it can really sting. Not only for them, but for you too, as their manager and leader.

In a way, business leaders tend to feel the successes and failures of those around them just as intensely – which makes any failure hard. But somehow, it seems even harsher when it comes from a star employee.

But at the end of the day – the fact remains: everyone makes mistakes. It’s an inevitable part of life and it is especially prevalent at work. But how do you help someone who is typically a star employee cope with a failure, even if it’s small?

Read more to learn how.

employee failures

How to Help Star Employees Through Failures

Recognize the different behaviors

When a high performing worker messes up – and it happens! – they are probably going to show their deflation in one way or another. There are several ways they can react.

First, they may become reclusive. Others may be motivated by the mistake and will not let it affect them. Some, unused to making a mistake, may be deflective and try to place blame on others.

Finally, there will be some that are a balance between the previous reactions – taking some time to regroup but quickly getting back on the horse and moving on.

Recognizing the behavior of your employee is the first way to help them deal with the reality that they goofed up, and to furthermore ensure that they learn and evolve from the mistake.

Let them know that it’s okay

While some mistakes are irreparable, most are not. Letting your employee know that it’s okay to make occasional mistakes as well as they are willing to learn from them can soften the blow overall. Empathize with them as much as you can.

You can do so by sharing with them a time where you made a mistake and felt down and then give them the “bigger picture” by emphasizing what you learned from it and how you moved on.

This will not only boost their morale but will show them that everyone is human and makes mistakes at times. Plus, it will do nothing but help your relationship with them.


Help them to understand why the issue occurred in the first place – mistakes are nothing but nuisances if we do not learn from them. Help your employee to delve into the “why’s” and “how’s” behind the event.

What could they have done differently?

How would they alter their behavior next time?

What does the mistake say about them as a worker?

What were the proximate causes?

All of these questions can help shape them into more confident and thus more valuable workers going forward.

The bottom line

Like we said, there’s no way to completely avoid goof ups. Helping your best employees through the low morale that accompanies the feeling of messing up is a great way to improve your business as well as your manager-direct report relationships, too.

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