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How can you learn from your mistakes if you won’t admit you made one?

Learning from mistakes

“Learn from your mistakes.” You’ve heard the saying a million times. It’s a valuable expression. Our mistakes and failures (hopefully few and far between) provide excellent learning opportunities. They give us insights about what won’t work and leave us one step closer to finding the solutions that will work. The problem is, many of us fail to acknowledge when we have made a mistake. Instead, we look to spread the blame elsewhere instead of taking accountability ourselves. Below are 5 steps you can take to make sure you and your team learn from your mistakes.

1.) Practice relentless honesty when it comes to self-evaluation

The first step to learning from our mistakes is to admit that we have made one. For leaders, there are two categories of mistakes. One, those made by you, yourself. Two, those made by your team. The key is to bring all mistakes, both those made by yourself and your team under the same umbrella, and treat them all as mistakes made by you. In other words, when things go wrong, you should always be asking yourself two questions. One, “What could and should I have done differently?” Two, “What are we going to do moving forward?” Leadership requires relentless honesty when it comes to self-evaluation. It also requires action.

2.) Be aware of your communication

Remember, your team looks to you. They watch and observe how you respond to certain situations. Your attitudes, behaviors and actions go a long way in establishing the culture in your organization. If you’re constantly blaming others in emails, meetings and in passing, they’ll notice. Of course, it’s not a direct certainty that they’ll do the same just because you do. However, if you hold yourself accountable and are open and honest about your own mistakes, it’s much more likely they will act similarly.

3.) Avoid a culture of fear

Some companies do not tolerate any type of mistake. One mistake and you’re reprimanded in front of the whole team. Or even worse, one failure and you’re out! Your team has no time or room to honestly assess their own mistakes under such circumstances. They’re too busy fearing for their job. They’re focused on avoiding blame and figuring out who can take the fall instead. Would you rather your team fear for their job or learn from the mistakes they have or may make in in the future?

4.) Bring mistakes away from the corner

Mistakes are too often kept isolated in the corner. Meaning, the parties involved may quietly take accountability and then work out the solution within their little unit. This of course, is much better than avoiding blame and pointing fingers at others. Still, there is more that can be achieved.

Think back to a time when your days and weeks were spent sitting in a classroom. I’m sure you remember hearing your teacher saying something like, “Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. If you have a question, it’s likely someone else in the room is struggling with the same thing.” It’s the same situation in the business world. If one individual or team has made a mistake, it’s likely another team has or could make the same mistake in the future. The team that quietly resolves their mistake amongst themselves does no benefit to the rest of the organization.

Instead, you should create a culture that encourages open, upfront dialogue about mistakes so others in the company can learn as well.

5.) Putting this into action

Remember, leadership requires an honest self-assessment of yourself. Whether a mistake was made by you or someone else on the team, always ask yourself, “What could and should I have done differently?” Make sure you’re not consistently pointing fingers when communicating with your team. Instead, be open and honest about any mistakes you have made. This will encourage your team members to do the same and help create a culture of accountability. Bring mistakes out into the open. If one team member is struggling with something, it’s likely someone else is too. Lastly, always have a plan of action for correcting a mistake. Identify what went wrong, the solution, and who’s going to take the lead in resolving the issue.

4 strategies for retaining top talent

Strategies for retaining top talent

Turnover is expensive. New employees need to be trained. This of course is not without a cost. On top of this, when a new hire replaces a previous employee, it’s likely you lose some productivity as the new employee grows into and learns his role. These are some of the reasons why reducing turnover is critical to running a successful organization.

This importance multiplies when focusing on your top performing employees. To run a successful organization and to sustain success, it’s absolutely crucial that you retain your top talent. These are your most productive employees, they motivate others to perform at high levels, and they provide the ideas and insights that inspire organizational growth. Naturally, these types of employees are highly sought after and they are looking for opportunities that best fit their needs, desires, and goals. If your company does not provide that, another certainly will. So how can you retain your top employees? Below are 4 strategies for retaining top talent.

Recognize your employees have lives outside of work

Your employees want to work hard. They want to achieve great things for the company, but they also want to enjoy their life away from work. They want to achieve great things outside of work as well. As an employer, you need to recognize this and take steps to ensure your company’s culture encourages a good work-life balance. As a leader, here are some things to consider:

  • Are you counting hours or measuring productivity and results?
  • What are your top performing employees striving to achieve outside of work?
  • How can you help your employees achieve personal goals outside of work?
  • What is one thing you need to do that will lead to a culture that encourages work-life balance?

Provide opportunities for growth

Your top performing employees are ambitious goal achievers. After achieving one goal, they move forward and set new ones. They’re constantly looking to grow, challenge themselves and reach new heights. From an organizational standpoint, people who fit this mold are looking to climb the company ladder. Of course, not every company has a vertical organizational structure with traditional supervisor, management and leadership positions. As an employer, this is not an excuse for not providing your top performing employees with opportunities to grow. It’s your job to constantly ask yourself:

  • How can I recognize their achievements and demonstrate my confidence in them?
  • How can I give my top performing employees more responsibility and influence?
  • How can provide my top performing employees new and greater challenges?

Invest in your employees

Growth is also internal. Your employees want to be good at their jobs. They want to perform up to and maximize their potential. What are you doing to help them do this? If your company is not investing in the development of your employees, you better believe others out there will.

Involve your employees in the planning process

If you want to really energize your top employees, and keep them excited about the organization, invite them to play a role in the planning process. Keep them up to date about organizational goals and direction and even listen to different suggestions they have for where the company should go. They will start to feel a real sense of ownership in the company.

What you can do

Remember that your employees have lives outside of work. Talk with them and learn what actions you can take to further improve their work-life balance. Top performing employees are always looking for a new challenge. Your organization needs to provide them these challenges and offer opportunities for growth and advancement within the company. How can you give your top performing employees more responsibility, influence and recognition? Your employees want to maximize their talents and potential and excel at their jobs. If you are not investing in their development and helping them do this, other companies are ready to do so. Your employees want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Invite your top performing team members to participate in organizational planning and then they will really feel ownership in the company. Invest in them or pay to replace them. The choice is yours. What will you do to retain your top talent?