Fear of mistakes or search for success?

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Some organizations, especially ones that are more bureaucratic can begin to develop a culture where the punishment for mistakes exceeds the praise for success.

Organizations can get bogged down because employees are focused on playing it safe, fearing career-limiting consequences for making mistakes. In sporting terms, they play defense more than offence.

This hiding tendency makes it difficult for senior management to size up what it going wrong in the organization and sometimes even senior leaders are playing things too safe.

The challenge for this type of organization is growth. Because of the tendency to avoid all risk it becomes difficult to innovate and try new things. And new initiatives are often not given the support to succeed in terms of investment or time. The company bails out too early and any employees who bought in too early become collateral damage along the way. This makes them more gun shy when future initiatives are launched.

Putting Ideas into Action

  • Observe your organizational culture – how willing are people to stand out and be noticed for their contributions? Or are they more focused on keeping their head down and nose clean for fear of reprisal?
  • Can you begin to shift the focus towards success, innovation and calculated risk taking?
  • When failures do occur (and they will) can you avoid punishing and instead look for learning opportunities?
  • Take the lead yourself by encouraging growth, learning and trying new things.

By gradually transforming your organization to be success-focused instead of mistake-focused you can enjoy greater growth, higher employee motivation and better financial performance.