Providing in the moment feedback to my team on mistakes that have been made in the business.


I own a retail store that makes custom t-shirts and hoodies with clients art work. It is known that we will have a ~1% or less scrap rate caused by a multitude of issues. In the first week of September I hired 2 new people and our scrap rates went up about 10% which is way out of the norm. I put in place a few process controls with all 4 team members, then came to find out that they decided amongst themselves to do one of them and ignore one.

I found out because there was a communications failure, and the process that would have caught that is the one that they were ignoring. I have reinforced that, for the next few weeks, we really need to get a handle on improving the customer experience and journey, and this process step needs to happen.

Yesterday, there was a printing error that was a duplicate error from the same team member. I pulled both production team members together, had them collaborate on a document on how to prevent future errors, I typed it up and will put it out today for them to use.

I’ve been in management a long time. When I see an issue, I try to engage the person to ask them for solutions to solve the problems. I almost always do it right in the moment, which feels very intense. I try to make the circumstance neutral – i.e. it’s only a t-shirt – what are we learning from it? For the individual, they have indicated that at times it can be intense for them as well.

Even though it is solving the problems in my business, it makes me feel like I am leading the witness. While I know it’s the Socratic method of questioning, and I want them to learn how to solve problems, there are times I just feel like I am lecturing. As it is retail, they are all young in their careers – super bright and talented, just not a lot of work experience.

I guess my question is really – should I address issues immediately or wait until some of the emotion around it has dissipated? There probably isn’t a right or wrong answer – I’m sure it’s situational. 🙂