Making mistakes is a fact of business and life in general. However, errors never occur in isolation; they can have a great impact (negative or positive) on workplace morale. After a mistake is made, there can be a real impulse to either assign blame or just avoid addressing the issue at all. It can be really tempting to just want to move forward and forget that anything even happened. This, however, would be a huge missed opportunity for your team to learn and grow.
Instead, consider the following recommendations for addressing failure at work. By doing so, you are more likely to learn valuable insights and propel your company forward. Long story short: your company and team will come out stronger than before.
Reduce Stigma and Encourage Communication
It can be difficult to talk about failure with your team. You do not want to call anyone out on their errors or diminish workplace morale by pointing out the shortcomings of the company. However, it is impossible to learn from mistakes if they are never addressed. It is important for your team to understand that mistakes are essentially an inevitability and that there is real value to be had from them. It is an opportunity for every member of the team to improve and for the company to evolve as a whole.
When talking about a mistake, try not to point fingers. Keep personal details private, if possible. It can be powerful for managers to call out their own errors, and talk about what they would improve without shame or judgment. This can help create a culture of learning and ownership.
Create a System for Analyzing Failures
By having a formal, organized procedure in place, you will be more likely to discern any insights, educate your staff, and move forward as an organization. It is important that your team be involved in the process – just remember the earlier recommendation about reducing stigma.
It is also helpful to not just have these conversations when a big mistake was made. Instead, have regular check-ins or wrap-up meetings to discuss how a project went and how it could be improved. This way, you are focusing on the bigger picture instead of just the negatives.
Identify Steps for Moving Forward
All of the insight and learnings will not make any difference unless they are put into action. In your team meetings, when you are talking about improvements or opportunities, make sure that actionable next steps are also discussed. By doing so, you turn the conversation from theoretical to actual.
Mistakes will happen. By acknowledging this and looking for value in the errors, you can actually strengthen your team and work procedures in the process.