The Minute Book
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Never Pass a Fault
Topic: Commentary

“Never Pass a Fault”

“Never Pass a Fault” is not about you. Should you be asking yourself if your true motivation is to help the individual correct a fault, or to impress your friends with your performance art in jumping on the revealed flaw? Do you click “reply” or “reply all” when you want to point out an error in someone's message?

“Never Pass a Fault” is known by many in the Canadian Armed Forces as the motto of The Royal Canadian Regiment. It has at times also been adopted by other units and schools. Such a simple phrase, it is unfortunate that the execution of its application is often flawed.

“Never Pass a Fault.” How often has it been quoted to justify someone pointing out another's error, using it as justification for a tedious opportunity to insult, provoke or humiliate? As quickly invoked to point out a typo or to back up an unduly harsh critique of some young soldier's error in dress, it gets used in some circles like a gang sign for bullies.

“Never Pass a Fault.” Such a simple context, that a responsible person (regardless of rank, years of service, or any other factor) should not overlook errors and mistakes. Instead, they should get involved in correcting them, in a professional manner.

“Never Pass a Fault” is not, and never has been, a license to nit pick. Neither is it a warrant to publicly insult or humiliate someone who has made an honest error. It's certainly not a ticket for self-declaration of assumed superiority for spotting something wrong (if you do that, you can turn in your quiet professional badge). And it is never an excuse to be rude, or to insult someone's person, parentage, regiment, corps, or service---or the people who trained them. Yet it has been used by some as their virtual bumper-sticker for all these failures in personal communication.

“Never Pass a Fault” illuminates the responsibility of each of us to watch for and correct errors. These could be minor faults of dress, drill, or deportment, or they might be the type of error, in training or operations, that could get someone killed if uncorrected. “Never Pass a Fault” is the opening for a responsible leader to identify and capitalize on teaching opportunities. These can range from opportunities to quietly correct an individual without embarrassing them; or to confirm that a training requirement for a wider group has presented itself.

“Never Pass a Fault,” effectively applied, understands that “the fault” is not always assignable to the individual whose actions or appearance has resulted in its being invoked. To immediately cast blame at the individual, especially when a narrow mind capitalizes on the phrase for public shaming, is, in itself, the greater fault, the greater failure.

“Never Pass a Fault” invites correction of the error, in a manner befitting the “crime” and appropriate to the style of leadership that will ensure remedy without humiliation or hostility. It is a challenge to apply leadership skills; responsible, level-headed leadership which respects the possitions of both parties and any others who may be watching. It's the difference between yelling at someone in pubic for a minor error, and taking that person aside for a moment to explain what they did wrong and how they can avoid repetition. In either case, the person will remember you for your action, but only in the latter example will that memory be a mutually respectful one.

“Never Pass a Fault” is not about you. Should you be asking yourself if your true motivation is to help the individual correct a fault, or to impress your friends with your performance art in jumping on the revealed flaw? Do you click “reply” or “reply all” when you want to point out an error in someone's message?

“Never Pass a Fault” invites you to get engaged when you identify an error, and to apply an appropriate measure. That invitation is not to be a critic, it's to be a leader. (Keep in mind that leadership is not solely the responsibility of the more senior person in an exchange.) When the opportunity to “Never Pass a Fault” crosses your path, which line of approach do you choose?

And if you ever have to say “Never Pass a Fault” to explain your actions to justify being rude or insulting, you've failed. If you're lucky, maybe someone will take you aside and explain where you went wrong.

Pro Patria

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:10 AM EDT

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