Mark Price

Engaging World
The Trainee Manager and the big mistake
No one could accuse the Trainee Manager of a lack of enthusiasm.

What he lacked in knowledge, he made up with eagerness, zeal and devotion to the job.

As he moved from department to department in the Great Value supermarket head office, he took an intense interest in learning about all aspects of the business.

One day, the Trainee Manager was very excited to be joining the buying department of Great Value. He lapped up all there was to know about ordering goods and allocating them to the shops.

Everything was going swimmingly until the Trainee Manager became distracted when placing an order. Instead of buying fifty cases of chicken wings, he ordered five hundred!

Inevitably, the shops were overwhelmed with chicken wings. They were soon on the phone to head office crying foul. Hundreds of cases of unsold chicken wings had to be destroyed. The mistake cost Great Value a lot of money.

The Trainee Manager felt very low. He felt even worse when the Managing Director, who was abreast of the problem, arrived to talk to him.

The Trainee Manager barely gave the Managing Director time to speak and having plucked up the courage blurted out,

‘I have cost the company tens of thousands of pounds in unnecessary wastage, lost the confidence of the shops, buyers and finance teams and I would therefore like to resign!’

‘Don't be silly,’ said the Managing Director. ‘I have spent tens of thousands of pounds training you. Why would I now want that experience to go elsewhere!’

‘What I need you to do is to put in place procedures to make sure nobody can ever make the same mistake again. If you do that this experience has been good for you and the business’

Mistakes, well managed, are often a good way for individuals and companies to improve.