Abigail Lucier November 22, 2019 As I continue to think about our culture and what will make it strong, I notice that many companies fall short of creating great cultures because they only focus on the positive. While positive recognition is certainly very important and completely missing in many workplaces, it’s only half of the equation.
It’s important to recognize hard work, great efforts, and outstanding performance results, but you’ll fail to optimize your culture if you neglect to recognize and accept mistakes as genuine human error. This second piece is equally, if not more, important as you give people the time to find the right answers and prevent the same mistakes in the future. To achieve this, our leaders must extend a measure of grace to each of us, and they should know our capabilities and motivations well enough to know that we’ll get things right when given the opportunity to grow and learn from a mistake.
Personally, I don’t think that all leaders are capable of this. In fact, this is probably one of the biggest factors that separates the great leaders from the mediocre ones. One thing that seems to unite all of us as humans is not our capabilities, but rather our ability to fall short of a goal. We are united in the fact that we all mess up from time to time. Nobody is perfect. We messed up yesterday, we might mess up today, and we could fall short tomorrow! I think what’s important is what you learn from these shortcomings and failures. If you have a leader that’s there to coach you through a mistake and help prevent it in the future, that’s worth its weight in gold. Instead of beating you over the head with your mistakes, a great leader will position you for success moving forward. You’re ultimately going to win in that situation, every single time.
Don’t get me wrong, while I firmly believe we should all extend a certain amount of tolerance for honest mistakes, that does not excuse poor performance on a consistent basis. The employee must display an aptitude for personal and professional development for these methods to work effectively, or you could find yourself spending calories on someone that would be better suited in another position altogether.
When leaders work with their people to create a culture of grace and equip people to do better—as good people want to do—the right culture is going to emerge. Then, you will have a cultural cornerstone of honesty, where leaders are free to say, “Hey, you made a mistake and I didn’t like it, but here’s what we’re going to have to do to make up for it as we move forward.” At the end of the day, if that same leader can stress to you how important you are to the team, and how they cannot do this without you and they don’t want do this without you, you’ll be able to forge a genuine bond and trust. Leadership that understands human error is inevitable and coaches their team through failures, will not only create a happier workplace but a more productive one as well.
Honesty and trust. Grace and equipping. These are the values upon which we are building a great culture here at Celero.