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By:  Dan Cohen – 1/23/15

Along with 55.9 Million other viewers, I watched in astonishment as Green Bay Packers Tight End, Brandon Bostick, botched the on-side kick that would have sealed the victory and sent the Green Bay Packers on to Super Bowl 49. As I have heard and read, Bostick was not supposed to jump for the football on the play, but step up and block someone so Jordy Nelson, their gifted wide receiver, could secure the ball and the victory. I have not seen or heard anyone on the inside confirm this, but the way Packers coach Mike McCarthy got into it with Bostick after the play strongly suggests he missed his assignment

Is it fair to say that Bostick lost the game? Of course, it isn’t. The Packers made other mistakes that we can point to. The coaching staff chose not to go for two touchdowns earlier in the game. Had they reached the end zone on either play, Bostick’s mistake may not have even mattered. In every football game, there are going to be missed opportunities, blown assignments, penalties, dropped footballs, missed kicks, missed tackles, etc. As viewers, we don’t see all of these mistakes. We see some of them, and of course, when Fox shows the replay of the on-side kick a dozen times and of Bostick’s teammates consoling him another half dozen times, this mistake is significantly amplified. It is amplified to the point that a large portion of the 55.9 million viewers actually do blame the outcome of the game on Bostick. They don’t see it as a mental mistake, but as a tight end on the “hands” team who let the ball slip through his hands and into the waiting hands of a Seattle Seahawk. True, he should have caught the ball, but had he done his job, Jordy Nelson would have been jumping for the ball instead. But, so should the rest of his teammates, who made mistakes themselves.

Whether you are earning $500,000 a year like Bostick or $10/hour working at McDonald’s, there are consequences to the team when you don’t do your job. Even though I don’t blame the outcome of the game on Bostick, his mistake contributed to the Packers’ loss. It was one of dozens of mistakes that occurred during the game. There can be no doubt that mistakes affect the team and business.  They prevent the team from achieving its goals and they affect the moral of the team, which affects overall performance and impacts success. Mistakes also affect the public’s perception of the team.  How many of us, to this day, refer to those same old Lions and still believe they’ll find a way to lose? Certainly, you don’t want your customer base to have that perception of your business.

We will never eliminate all mistakes, but we can minimize mistakes through effective leadership, by holding employees accountable, and cultivating an environment where employees care about their work and want to put forth effort. Effort is critical because coaches, like bosses become more upset over mistakes that have nothing to do with effort.  You are not going to see too many coaches scream at a receiver because he did not make a diving catch, or a sprinter who gets edged out at the finish line.  But coaches do get upset when a lineman jumps off sides, gets a penalty for stepping on another player after the whistle has blown or when the sprinter is disqualified from a race because of a false start.  Similarly, most bosses are much more likely to become upset when employees make mistakes without giving maximum effort. It’s one thing to make a mistake while giving 110%. It’s an entirely different thing to make a mistake while loafing or not paying attention.

Employees must understand that everyone must do their job and that every job is important to the success of the business. Successful companies get this point across to their workforce early and often and constantly reinforce it through an effective communication and reward system. Of course, if workers are working hard, it is easier to accept the mistakes when they occur.