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Here are some of the things you can do to create the kind of environment where people are not afraid to fail.

Provide Guidelines for Failing: If you give people guidelines for failing they will be more comfortable with the idea of taking risks. Even the most inexperienced person knows that there are some failures that will not be tolerated. If you give them guidelines, you will be more comfortable too. You will have a better basis for reprimanding them when necessary. Here are some suggestions for the kinds of guidelines you may want to set:

  • It is okay to make a mistake once, but it is not okay to make the same mistake twice.
  • It is okay to fail as long as you try your best.
  • If you have serious doubts about what is expected of you, ask for clarification.
  • One of the worst kinds of mistakes is inactivity and the failure to make a decision.

Encourage and Reward Risk Taking: Let people know that you want them to take calculated risks. Reassure them that you know they are only human and will make mistakes. Remind them of the quote: “In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” When they take a risk and succeed, give them plenty of praise. Praise them in front of their peers as a way of motivating others to do the same. When they take appropriate risks and fail, acknowledge their courage and their hard work.

Penalize Inactivity and Indecision: As you encourage and reward risk taking, let people know that inactivity and indecision are not acceptable. Let them know that you prefer that they make a decision, even if it is the wrong decision, rather than make no decision at all. Let them know that a record of significant achievement sprinkled with failure is prized far and above a mistake-free record with few achievements.

Let People Know You Make Mistakes: Let your people know that you are human just like them, that you make mistakes too. This is important for them to know because most people have great difficulty tolerating perfection – perhaps it is because perfection mirrors imperfection.

If you want your people to be comfortable with failure and to view it as a positive experience, you must apply the same principles to yourself when you make a mistake. Through your own actions you can serve as a role model for them on how to use failure as a means of achieving success.

Learn more about how to make your people comfortable with failure only at the University Canada West, one of the best universities in Canada, offering various business and management related programs.