Congratulations! You Made a Mistake

When is the last time you heard yourself say those words to your employee because she took a risk in the spirit of continuous improvement that didn’t work out?

When your employee does make a mistake, how do they learn from it? More importantly, how do you make sure that others learn from it?

Almost every manager I coach or train asks me how to get their employees to “think outside the box” and be more creative and innovative when problem solving. However, the issue isn’t that the employee doesn’t know how to be creative and innovative, the issue is that the manager doesn’t know how to create an environment conducive to taking risks and trying something new. The good news is that I am going to tell you how to create that environment. The great news is that YOU have the ability to make it happen.

Make it meaningful.

Why would they want to innovate, think differently, try something new or take a risk? What’s in it for them? Could it provide new career opportunities, learning and development, financial incentives, pride, recognition.

Lead by example.

When is the last time you shared a mistake or blunder with your team and then talked about lessons learned, how it helped you to grow or think differently? When they hear you talk about those experiences, it sends a message that it is ok to make a mistake as long as you share your learning with others.

Support their decision.

If you truly want your employees to go out on a limb and take a risk, you have to be willing to back them up when they do. You also have to be willing to go to bat for them with others in the organization when it doesn’t work out.
Offer encouragement. Most people are afraid of retribution if they make a mistake. It is up to you to encourage your employees to challenge the status quo and think differently.

Set clear boundaries.

Obviously there are situations where mistakes can’t be made and risks shouldn’t be taken. Those situations depend on the level of the impact if something goes wrong.

“If it’s meant to be ~ it’s up to me”

So if you want more innovation in your organization, then it’s up to you to create the environment where people feel safe and supported to take risks, be creative, and step out of their comfort zone. I encourage you to begin this shift by sharing experiences and lessons learned from your own mistakes. I guarantee it will build the foundation of trust needed for your employees to WOW you with something out of the ordinary.

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