Venture Capital

10 Ways To Encourage Talk About Failure In Your Company

Author
Forbes Expert Panel
Category
Venture Capital
Read Time
5 min

Mistakes can be some of the most helpful catalysts for growth and learning, both in life and in the workplace. However, many people fear failure, which can hold them back from taking risks or trying new things.

Employees are most productive and creative when they aren't afraid of failing or making mistakes at work. Below, 10 members of Forbes Business Council discuss the small things leaders can do to encourage more discussions about failure in their organizations, which will help everyone embrace the lessons that can be learned from mistakes.

1. Celebrate Failure In Team Meetings

Failure is a great teacher! Celebrate failure in your team meetings. Have each team member share a recent failure and then cheer. This retrains team members to look at failure differently and be more willing to take risks! - Elle Anderson, Premier Landscapes

2. Speak Openly About Your Failures

It is essential that leaders speak openly about their failures as well as their successes. To empower individuals to find a powerful purpose from their failures, we must introduce the right transformative cultural shift. In order to develop a highly motivated working culture and etiquette, create "circles of failures for success." - Kamala Maddali, Deep Lens Inc

3. Focus On The Lessons Learned

Leaders can share stories of failures, focusing on lessons they have learned and ways those experiences have shaped their attitude and character. We all learn through trial and error, so normalizing that this process is a lifelong journey is key. Listen with empathy, without judgment, to those who share their failures. Encourage them to address them, recover from them and get back on track. - Anish Srivastava, Vinaj Ventures

4. Reward Employees Who Catch Mistakes

One way to reinforce the importance of learning from mistakes is to make it part of your company culture. Consider recognizing employees for surfacing things that have gone wrong or errors that are identified and resolved. Having a catchy program like Great Catch or the Flounder Award can provide a platform to reflect on the issue publicly and create organizational learning. - Sheila Monroe, TrueAccord Corp.

5. Encourage Productive Experiments

Taking calculated risks is table stakes in most businesses, and as leaders, we should be encouraging the pursuit of experiments that yield productive mistakes. I encourage the evaluation of innovation proposals not only on the basis of what we stand to lose by pursuing it but also what it could lose by not doing so. - Sindhu Kutty, Kuroshio Consulting

6. Focus On Hypothesis Testing

Failure is one of the outcomes when you are validating a hypothesis. With every failure, you are one step closer to success. Just make sure you understand the price of each try. If you are ready to accept any scenario, then there is no sense in procrastinating due to fear. - Sergej Derzap, Amasty

7. Properly Communicate The 'Why'

As a leader, the fear of failure fades if you can properly communicate your "why." When employees understand why you're doing things and who you're helping, it becomes more about the mission. Eventually, the fear changes from fear of failing in daily tasks to the fear of not fulfilling your "why." - Dana Cornell, Cornell Capital Holdings

8. Lead With Vulnerability

Be courageous and lead by example. When you lead with the courage to be vulnerable yourself, by sharing about your own failures, it gives permission to those in your organization to feel safe enough to open and share as well. - Sigourney Weldon, SIGOURNEY BELLE

9. Promote A Culture Of Learning

No one wants to fail—even those who proudly proclaim their failures. Instead of debating the merits of failure, promote a learning culture. Shift the mindset from “discussing failures,” that freezes people over with fear, toward “learning.” This shift encourages action, giving us the freedom to experiment and leading to learning. They will still experience failures, but the focus would be on the lessons. - Pankaj Srivastava, Practicalspeak

10. Focus On Growing

Make it about learning, not criticism. Make it about growing. The lessons we draw from failures are more impactful and memorable than even those from our successes. Remind them that no one ever died from embarrassment. Everything is recoverable as long as you have the right attitude. Not taking action out of fear leads to worse consequences. As we say, "Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will." - Jason Van Camp, Mission Six Zero