Mistakes: Learn from it

Anne Voigt Kjaer
Anne Voigt Kjaer

Mistakes are inevitable

In business, it is inevitable that at some stage you will make a mistake or blunder. It is important not to dwell on these mistakes though, and instead focus on how you can improve your performance in the future. Quality management training and development also indicate that modern 21st-century organizations must foster learning environments, encouraging an open and willing to learn from mistakes to form a positive, winning strategy. Unfortunately, the reality is sometimes very different. Here are common mistakes that are regularly made in businesses that run on a budget.

Not communicating
Not communicating clearly. Most people make the mistake of not communicating their requirements fully. They fail to communicate specific requirements, specifications, and benefits effectively to business stakeholders. This lack of communication often makes us unclear about what we want from them. When we do not clearly communicate our expectations, we leave it up to others to figure out.

Employee check
Not checking employees. A business often makes mistakes when it comes to checking employees. Confirm that every member of staff understands their role and the implications of making mistakes. Also, ask employees to check the documentation for you too. A business that does not make mistakes when it comes to checking its employees is one that is less likely to make mistakes in the future.

Good employees
Not hiring good employees. A business often makes a mistake when it does not hire good employees. Good employees learn from their mistakes and others learn from others. If good employees feel motivated and employed, they will quickly learn from mistakes, thus ensuring a high level of productivity.

Not defining the purpose of the business. Very few business leaders set out the purpose of the business in clear terms. This makes it harder for members of staff to make mistakes. It may seem that the business is pointless but once a leader outlines its purpose, members of staff are more likely to stay devoted and committed.

Not rewarding good employees. A business that respects its employees and rewards those who make mistakes is likely to create a work environment where employees are fully engaged. This can only be good for business.

Celebrate mistakes that we can learn from
Not celebrating mistakes. Learning from mistakes is an important part of any business's learning cycle. Businesses should celebrate mistakes because this encourages employees to continue to strive for success. We learn best by actions and celebrations should therefore occur after every mistake. A business that celebrates its mistakes not only ensures it is improving its performance but also helps it learn from past mistakes.

Not supporting or acknowledging the growth and success of the business. There are two parts to managing a business. The first involves identifying opportunities to improve the business and the second is implementing solutions to problems. If the manager thinks the biggest mistakes have been made, he/she needs to acknowledge this and give support where necessary. There are times when a manager will learn from past mistakes but if not, a business needs to take corrective measures to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. If a manager finds a new opportunity or problem to learn from, then the opportunity will need to be acknowledged and rewarded.

Not learning from their mistakes. Building and sustaining momentum requires action and every mistake a leader makes has the potential to create momentum. If leaders allow mistakes to keep them from taking action, then they are perpetuating a mistake by not taking action. Mulally has stated that he plans to make mistakes because that is how leaders learn from their mistakes and continue to improve. A leader that allows mistakes to hold them back from progressing is less likely to learn from their mistakes and will not foster continued improvement within the organization.

Addressing issues
Not addressing the issue. When leaders address the issue, they can gain a positive impact on the business. However, not addressing the issue will result in a negative impact. For example, when Mulally was asked why he was so worried about a slowdown in China, he said that he had no idea. Instead of acknowledging that he was wrong and offering advice, he waited for the question to come up again. This created a negative impact because nobody got to ask the question again and the issue went on.

Making employees feel bad
Making us feel like we have made a mistake. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and to grow. This is especially true in a complex organization like Microsoft where mistakes can mean the difference between success and failure. If Mulally or anyone else makes a mistake, they should stand up and say to themselves, "This is a mistake and I'm sorry. This is the worst thing that could happen and I hope that someone looks at this and realizes that I am not perfect and I am willing to work hard to make things right."

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