Everyone makes mistakes. You. Me. The barista who wrote the wrong name on your Starbucks latte. Everyone.
Leaders in the business world will probably tell you about the trial and error that went into growing their organization over time too. It’s a natural side effect of learning new skills and applying them to the work that you do every single day; this is why mistakes should never be overly demonized.
Discover 3 ways your employees' mistakes will make your business grow:
So, why are there still companies that only see the negative when it comes to employee mistakes? We get it, no one likes it when people screw up, especially when it results in your company losing money or resources. But, at the end of the day, businesses that create an environment where their staff is afraid of making a mistake are losing sight of the bigger picture.
The main reason for this is that your employees will be losing out on crucial growth opportunities if they’re living in a constant state of anxiety or fear of committing even the smallest error. No one is going to get every task right or achieve every goal, particularly those who are new to the workplace or just starting out in a new role. This brings us to our first and arguably most important distinction:
Mistakes are Only Bad if You Make Them So
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s a saying that has never been truer in the business world. To stand out in niche markets, your organization should be focused on what makes you different in a unique way instead of constantly trying to one-up the competition.
Just so we’re clear: I'm not encouraging dropping the ball intentionally; what I am doing is advocating that your company promote a workplace where honest mistakes are used as learning tools.
I’m sure there are managers and owners who aren't fans of that mentality. Some may even call it a "soft" approach to managing employees. However, it's important to realize that most mistakes made on the job are unintentional (because really, why would someone deliberately sabotage their own reputation in the workplace? I wouldn’t).
Instead, we want to be proactive instead of reactionary in these cases. It’s all about fostering an atmosphere where skill development can blossom, which means allowing errors to happen. Wouldn't you want to increase your staff's productivity instead of burying the confidence and initiative needed to make that happen?
Many errors will likely cost your organization money, time and perhaps even some of your short-term sanity. Nevertheless, it's about coming out ahead in the long run, with employees that are better equipped to go that extra mile in the name of your brand.
Here are the three biggest reasons that those errors will help your organization improve over time:
Mistakes (Probably) Won’t Be Repeated
Embarrassing yourself in front of your co-workers, manager or even the CEO of a larger company is never anyone’s idea of a good time. That kind of public discomfort will also ensure that the employee in question will avoid making the same mistake again. One onset of cold sweats is enough for most people (actually, make that all people).
From a managerial standpoint, once an employee knows they’ve screwed up, there's normally no reason to berate them any further. It’s like an athlete in a pressure situation: You don’t have to tell them they missed the big shot/catch/moment – they’ve already internalized it.
The best thing to do if you’re in a position of power within your organization is to turn the negative into a positive as much as possible. Companies that allow their employees the necessary breathing room to make mistakes can be sure that most will do everything in their power to correct the error moving forward.
As a result, your business will not only become more efficient in its operations but can also benefit from staff members who have grown their skill set to the point where mistakes won’t repeat themselves.
Ideas and Goals Become More Ambitious
By giving your employees the power to find out what works and what doesn’t through trial and error, you’ll be fostering an environment where ideas and goal-setting will take on a more ambitious tint than before.
Without the built-in fear of repercussions from management and the perceived need to "play it safe," workers will break out of a cycle where the bare minimum was considered enough and strive for bigger and better results.
Want your employees to go that extra mile? To think outside the box? To deliver that gem of an idea that could be a trendsetter in your industry? They need to be able to make mistakes in order to get there.
I look at the greatest minds in the history of the tech and e-commerce industries, and see a list of names who had the freedom to experiment and find their sweet spots. Steve Jobs didn’t get it right the first time. Neither did Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and many of their peers.
Instead, it took many, many tries and lots of failure before they found a life-changing solution that changed the world. Short-term failure always leads to long-term successes; Your staff members are no different.
Your Employees Will Grow with Your Company and Help It Evolve
Avoiding previous mistakes and trying about ambitious new ideas – sounds like a recipe for business growth and improved practices to me.
Not only will your employees experience personal growth and associate those new skills with your company’s culture, but those improvements will, in turn, will add more and more tools to your organization’s arsenal.
That kind of evolution is at the heart of great business culture; however, winning on that level doesn’t just happen either. The more people you have on board who buy into an environment where learning is prioritized over chastising individuals after a screw-up, the more you’ll be able to nab top talent and watch it turn into something special.
Speaking of talent, putting thought and effort into your culture will also help you keep your superstar team members who helped your business grow in the first place. High employee turnover and organizational efficiency rarely go hand-in-hand so, in order to keep the band together, you have to reward the lesson learning that comes from innocent mistakes.
There you have it – three major ways that turning error-making into a positive can help your business long-term. Once again, we’re not saying that regularly dropping the ball is good business practice or something you should be ecstatic about on any level. The focus here should be on the silver lining; in other words, what asset can you take from a scenario where a mistake was made and use it to make your company stronger? If it doesn’t kill you, it will do just that.
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