To Succeed, Allow Your People To Sometimes Fail

As a manager, you’re co-responsible for the growth and development of the people you manage. You have to create an environment where they are challenged and have room to grow.

Part of that process is creating a space where they can safely fail. I know, that sounds kind or crazy, but it works. Think back on your life so far. I’m betting the biggest quantum jumps in wisdom came from the times you really screwed up.

When my kids were just little tykes, I let them play around on our shared family computer (hey, those were the salad days), clicking and exploring. I knew that there was nothing that they could screw up badly enough that I couldn’t fix it. In the same sort of parental vein, you need to let your employees explore their area of responsibility: to take risks, and to learn from their successes and failures.

Think about it. If you aren’t exploring and taking risks, you become stale, and mental stagnation sets in. We’ve all had jobs where the standard operating procedure was gospel, and any deviation was severely frowned upon. Those situations are intellectual coffins where people turn into office automatons, devoid of any creativity or learning.

You can’t have your people making huge costly mistakes though, so when I talk about failure, I’m talking about allowing them to take calculated risks in an environment in which you’re familiar enough that the risks can be mitigated.

Using my kiddie example again, did I let them open up the computer case and start poking around in there? No way. That could have resulted in irreparable harm to either them or the computer. It’s the same in your business. Let your employees take the risks from which you can recover, and steer them away from the risks from which you’d both suffer.

Failure is an integral part of success. Don’t be afraid to give them the room they need to bake a little humble pie.

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