What does “failure” mean to you? It is just one small word, but has many different connotations. When it comes to businesses and the workplace, we usually relate failure to situations like not managing to close a sale, win the business you were pitching, or reach your yearly target. But it is not quite so straightforward. We can fail every day on even more important factors that harm our business and limit our potential. So, where might you be going wrong?
Failing to challenge
It may be a comfortable place, but abiding by the status quo can do more harm than good. In our current volatile digital climate, no one and no business can afford to stand still. If you continue to rely on tried and trusted ways, there is a strong chance you will be left behind. Instead, companies must embrace risk by turning problems on their head and seeking different types of solutions. Shake up decision-making processes and experiment with more decentralized, bottom-up processes, policies and structures. Every voice can be included to crowd-source your strategy, your values, and your purpose.
Take steps to surface different perspectives. Harness divergent thinking, and tap into all the creativity of your most valuable and innovative resource – your own employees.
Failing to communicate
Do you find yourself sometimes frustrated with your team? Do they occasionally not seem to pick up on your needs, or deliver on your expectations? The problem may not necessarily be with them.
When did you last take a step back to self-reflect? How did you go about planning and communicating a project?
You cannot expect a great outcome if you first don’t properly paint a picture of what you need and why it is important. What’s it like to be led by you? Is your message inspiring, memorable, unique? Don’t assume, work harder to tell the right story at the right time.
Failing to encourage and support
Actively supporting colleagues, I believe, is the most important part of our job, but so often overlooked. Sometimes those with experience lack the time or opportunity to share their advice. So companies need to create environments where each and every individual can speak up and seek help.
Nobody wants to be the next to have a culture scandal on their hands. If people feel that they can raise sensitive topics safely, then issues can be nipped in the bud before becoming full blown problems. The best way to resolve cultural challenges is to surface them, then resolve and report on them. We need to build a work space that encourages input, questions and feedback, where no idea is stupid and no challenge a nuisance.
No one wants to feel like they have failed to reach a goal, but we need to realise that “success” is so much more than short term results. Culture and attitudes play a bigger role in the growth and survival of your business. So, if you don’t want to let down your company, don’t let down your employees.
This piece was originally contributed to Forbes.com