Some of you may have heard the story of how a customer of US Airways complained about something on Twitter and the response from an employee in the customer relations division came with an attached photograph of a women in a sexual pose.
There were immediate calls for the employee to be fired for this act but to their credit, US Airways said they would not do so because it was an ‘honest mistake’.
We all make mistakes in our jobs, especially if the job requires us to think and act with some autonomy. Most of the time we are lucky because our mistakes are not as spectacular as this particular one or because very few notice them. If people fear being fired for every mistake, they will be miserable employees who do not take any initiative and do no one any good. People should only worry for their jobs if they are irredeemably incompetent or systematically engage in rudeness towards customers or commit acts of malice or fraud or sabotage against the company.
And all of us should refrain from calling for the heads to roll of people who simply make mistakes, however egregious, especially if they are low-level. These people and their families need their jobs and calling for someone to be fired is not something to be done lightly.