Working With the Stress of Errors: Error Management Strategies as Coping

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Abstract

Workplace error management research has focused on performance, especially in training settings. The connection of error management strategies to employees’ well-being has not been examined despite the fact that errors can include making mistakes that are threatening to one’s sense of self-worth. The present study connects the number of errors committed to employees’ psychological strain through interpretations of errors, or error management. The transactional theory of stress provides a framework for the study. Sampling from various organizations and Mechanical Turk, 356 cases were analyzed. Positive error management (PEM) did not appear to reduce strains, but negative error management (NEM) increased them. NEM mediated the relationship between errors and error strain, and error strain mediated the relationship between NEM and emotional exhaustion. Future research on error management could focus on individual and organizational differences that may affect employees’ interpretations and management of errors, and on the examination of errors and error management strategies cross-culturally.

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