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18 January 2019
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Success is great, but celebrate your failures too

10 November 2014  

It is always great to talk about your successes, but for a few months now I have been writing about projects where we have had problems, where we made mistakes, didn’t cover all of the angles, made assumptions or maybe took our eye off the ball types of scenario, blogs John Bowen.

The importance of these situations is how you learn from them and what you do with that knowledge. Teaching someone the theory of doing something is not that hard and nor is passing on some of the things that you have learnt from doing it, but it is not until the pupil takes over and does it for themselves that they really begin to learn.

Making mistakes is a fundamental part of team building and the development of people within a team, and just as important is how the leader handles those mistakes because of the way that they affect the team and its components. This is where the idea of managing people shows its flaws; what you need to be doing is involving people so the team is a mutual support group that will work together to ride out individual mistakes and minimise their impact.

No amount of team building days out will give you anywhere near the benefit that involving your team in their job will, and an involved team will ooze synergy. Team members will make light of the odd error, but they make fewer because they look out for each other and head off many potential errors. They don’t need managing because they understand what has to be done and make that happen.

None of us is perfect and we will always get something wrong from time to time. Good leaders understand that and create environments where they can push their people to achieve their full potential, but in a no-blame culture where getting it wrong now and again is seen a positive thing.

So next time something goes wrong, work out why, fix it and then celebrate having put it right in the same way that you would celebrate a success. After all, fixing a problem is just that – a success.

John Bowen is an FM consultant