• Maud Vanhoutte

Will you dare to invite 'failure and mistakes' in your organisation to grow and succeed?


There is no failure, only feedback - NLP Presupposition


How To Turn A Setback Into An Opportunity Within The Workplace:

Essential Management Skills and Strategies To Capitalise On Failure.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all–in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K Rowling

Failure is something that we all experience. It may be in your personal environment, such as a relationship, or within your professional space, in the form of missing a deal, loss to a competitor or losing an important piece of your infrastructure. Failure is a natural process and it affects everyone, but the best individuals are not defined by their failures and deal with them by using them to their advantage.


Potato chips, Post-It Notes, pacemakers, penicillin and Silly Putty are all related

through the fact that making mistakes in the first place created these products. These inventors where trying to create something totally different. However, the mistakes they made on the way helped them achieve something else on their final product. In these cases, these failures and mistakes actually developed into triumphs.

Failure is a naturally part of the work environment and experience. However, there

has been a culture of fear of developed around failure. This culture has led individuals to be afraid of making mistakes and this influences the workplace, by using things such as punishments, which have increased the culture of fear.


Because adults are now so afraid of failing, they tend to stay away from new challenging situations. Daring to get outside of the comfort zone sounds more and more scary.

Did you know that you used to be more adventurous?


Kids don’t share the same perspective as adults when it comes to failures. Kids just dare; they try, again and again, until we, adults, stop them with our fears and limiting beliefs!

When a toddler starts walking, does he give up after the first fall? No, he tries again and again until he manages to walk. This is a lesson all adults should remember when they want to give up or don’t even dare trying.


Failure and mistakes are something that should not be avoided or neglected as they play a vital role in helping individuals and employees grow, thus, helping the

company.


This article will provide management, leadership skills and strategies that will

help turn mistakes into opportunities and learning experiences for your company.


1. Create a Mistake/Learning Friendly environment

No one sets out to make a mistake in the first place. Mistakes and failures are a

processes of trial and error where individuals work out what does and does not work.

As Thomas Edison said in a response to a question about failure ‘I have not failed.

I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ An environment that encourages

mistakes and failures allows employees to feel supported and encouraged to experiment, innovate and develop new ideas and processes. This sought of mentality encourages growth and further development, which will 100% benefit the company, with more productive and encouraged workers driving results.


2. Encourage ‘fast failure’

The importance of creating a supportive and encouraging environment that is

mistake/learning friendly is that it stimulates employees to undertake ‘fast failures’.

This environment informs employees that it is okay to experiment and innovate, but it must be done quickly. This means that an individual should not go ahead with a project in its fullest form first; instead, they should have a quick outline when implementing it. In this way, if there are mistakes, they can be quickly rectified, as the plan is less advanced, thus, less time consuming and the mistake has a less of an impact to the organisation.


3. Open clear communication and transparency

Failure is largely seen as negative. Because of this, we attribute negative emotions to the experience. The experience is portrayed negatively in your memory. This explains why, when thinking back on it, it brings up a feeling of self-doubt, anxiety and shakes our confidence. This is seen as a reflection of our ability, and creates the feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. This becomes a continuing cycle of failure as we unable to rectify our mistakes, as the negative emotions brought up makes us ignore the experience and learning from it. Rather we attribute that failure to our intrinsic ability and ourselves as a whole.


Producing policies that encourage transparency and lines of communication, creates an environment where individuals know that it is okay to produce mistakes, gets rid of the negative thinking around failure and allows individuals to healthy process and review the mistake. Individuals are more likely to learn from their mistakes if they are able to communicate the experience. Through communication individuals can gain new perspectives, knowledge and ideas and learn how to deal with it next time. Communication allows individuals to feel supported and encourages them to ‘get back on the horse’ and continue forward with it.


4. Opportunity to re-evaluate your situation

Failure is a great opportunity to re-evaluate your situation. It provides time to ask why you failed, how you feel about it and what should you do next. If you failed at starting a company, a project or a new product, you can sit down and review honestly what has happened. Is it because of the lack of work, lack of preparation or is it something deeper, like how much you truly care about what you are doing.


If you have continued to fail and learnt all you can from it, it could be a sign that what you are doing is not for you or the company. This involves being truly honest with yourself, analysing the motivation behind what you are doing, whether these are the right reasons for continuing with what you are doing and overall your satisfaction with this line or work. These are not easy decisions, and it’s important to evaluate your situation and provide new insights into how and why you failed and by extension the overall project merits and whether it’s worth continuing with.


5. Put the Failure into Perspective

Failure or mistake will not lead to the end of the world. The importance of a manager is to get the best out of their employees. If employees feel that failure and success can’t be associated in a way, then they will be crippled with fear to move on and will inhibit the company’s growth as well as there own growth. As an extension of creating a mistake friendly environment and opening lines of communication, putting failures into perspective of the larger picture, allows employees to move on from the failure quicker and limits the impact to the operations of the company.

This is where the leaders and managers have to lead by example and encourage employees to take risks, experience failures, learn from them and move on. Failure is a natural part of the journey to success. As a manager or an employee, the most important goal is to make yourself and your team successful.

Take the time to help put setbacks into perspective and turn disappointments into opportunities for growth. Using this, individuals will feel more encouraged to take risks, innovative, learn, move on and grow which will result in rewarding themselves and the company for the support with future accomplishments and success.



Evan Clifford and Maud Vanhoutte

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