I once worked in an organisation where you couldn’t fail: the culture was that mistakes were bad and something to be ashamed about. The result? Well, since making mistakes are a part of life (and you can learn a lot from failing, which I will cover off later in this blog), the net result was that employees became experts in maintaining a perfect ‘game face’ as well as expertly hiding anything that went wrong. So when we did make mistakes, everyone ducked for cover or found someone else to blame. You can imagine the impact that this had on the company culture! Not only did it impact the culture in a negative way, there was no way for employees to learn from making mistakes.
So what are the lessons that your team can learn from failure?
• It’s ok to feel disappointed
Failure is a part of life but that still doesn’t make it fun. By giving your team a place to vent and feel disappointed, you are acknowledging their emotions. When first acknowledging the events that didn’t work out as expected, it’s good to understand what went wrong as that is part of the learning process. It also helps your team to move past the emotional phase and into a more active stage of assessing the failure in order to progress forward.
• Part of accepting failure is taking responsibility
Whether someone wins or loses well is a great sign of their character. However, as we all know, losing (or failing) is generally not as much fun as winning. Winning well is fairly easy. You need to show some humility, thank people for their congratulatory messages and generally revel in their success. Failing? That’s a lot more complicated… In an interview, we recommend asking candidates what their biggest failure was and how they handled it. Not because we want to see them squirm but because navigating failure effectively is an amazing accurate sign of good leadership. Taking responsibility for failure is refreshing when a common standard is to make excuses.
• Failure can change your mindset
‘Growth mindset’ is one of the buzzwords around at the moment that is used to describe a set of research conducted by Dr Carol Dweck that is focused on students’ attitudes to failure. The research showed that some students rebound after experiencing failure and others rebounded after experiencing setbacks. Working with your teams, you can help them understand how failure is simply part of the process – it makes them stronger. If they put in time and effort, this will eventually lead to higher achievement. Failure is always the best place to learn.
If your team requires support to manage challenging situations, speak to the HR Consulting team at Flexi Personnel.