20 Jun Embracing Failure and Mistakes In the Workplace
Often time in a company – managers, owners and CEO’s can get so wrapped up in looking at metrics, profit and lost and future projections that they can forget to pay attention to what matters most — their people.
Most of the big companies on the Fortune 500 list were early adopters of a secret that many of us are just now discovering: Happy employees equal bigger profits.
It shouldn’t be. By now we have all heard or read somewhere that happier employees are more productive, more creative and engaged. But even more important than that is the simple fact that happy employee become raving fans for your company and brand outside of the job without you even asking them.
So what do you need to do in order to get to the place where your team is happy and engaged?
There are a ton of ways to answer this question – but for today we are just going to focus on the idea success vs. failure in the workplace and why it is absolutely necessary to allow your team to be ok with the idea of failing.
According to the dictionary – one definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose and the definition of failure is lack of success.
When you look at them written failure does not seem like the life or death outcome that we humans have make out to be. It feels a bit less….well intense.
As adults we understand to a certain extent that failure of some sort is inevitable. There is no way that we can be perfect at everything we do. Yet still we beat ourselves (and others) up when we are unable to live up to the expectations that we have set or that have been set for us.
Now imagine this – you are working for a boss that only cares about results. Any mistake that is made leads to a conversation in his/her office that leaves the employee fearing for their job. A job that they can not afford to lose because without it, they can not support their family.
Everyday, they come in the office walking on egg shells – making sure not to stir the pot or take an risks at all because they are trying to be the perfect employee. Everyday they leave stressed, anxious and unhappy.
Sadly, this is the reality for many people. They do not feel safe to even try something new because they believe they are just one failure away from the chopping block.
This is why the way we look at failure needs to change! It’s time for us to start celebrating failures as organizations.
Now before you roll your eyes and start to disagree with me, lets set the record straight – there is huge difference between failures and mistakes and not all mistakes are created equally. Some mistakes are caused by sheer lack of ability and not paying attention to detail while others come about when experimenting and trying to figure out something one might not know.
I think it’s pretty obvious that we are looking for the latter type in regard to failure.
Well, because knowing this can open up an examination door – one that will help pinpoint the root cause of a failure and then lead to taking the appropriate steps to prevent making the same mistakes in the future after some reassessing and tweaking.
As a leader the best thing to know for both you and your team is that even if you or your team “fails” at something that you aggressively went after, you can’t really fail completely. Every single failure comes with some huge learning lessons that you will always be able to apply to a similar situation in the future.
Take for instance – a year and half ago, I had a failed event that ended up costing me $8,000 as I was starting to build PLAYOLOGY. At the end of the day, there were two ways that I could have handled that – I could have used it as an excuse to give up or I could do what I did by taking every learning lesson I could from that experience and applying it to other events that I was creating.
The truth of the matter is that I learned MORE about entrepreneurship, leadership and perseverance from those 4 months leading up to that event than I did in my 4 years of college.
I became a stronger leader because I gave myself the space and permission to fail if that was what was necessary to build something better.
I took myself out of the equation and realized that failing did not make me a weak person, leader or entrepreneur – it actually shined light on the places that I needed to focus on and learn more about in order to achieve the level of success that I desired.
Want to take a step closer to becoming that powerful leader you know you can be? Adopt this mindset. Show your team that you value them taking risks on new projects and in their thinking. Help them remove the internal fear that they have about swinging out and missing.
Not only will this help them break the cycle of the flight or fight response that happens when the possibility of a major loss is feared due to failing, but it will also foster a relationship of trust and connectedness.
This in return will create a culture of truth telling where people feel comfortable sharing mistakes and mishaps instead of covering them up.
Once you are playing in this ball park, you can sit back a little and start to watch your profits grow. When your team knows that they can trust you – there is no limit to what they can do.
So just for a second lets revisit your past – what would you say your biggest failure has been to date and how did it shape you into the person, leader or CEO that you are today?