As always, I want to offer my sincere apology to Sue Grafton for using (stealing??) her approach for the titles of her many outstanding mystery novels for this series of articles that I hope makes YOU a happier and more effective leader working with a truly empowered team that really enjoys what they do! Oh, and if you have not read any of Ms. Grafton novels I highly recommend that you give her a try.
Let THEM Fail
“Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.”
- Roger von Oech
This may the toughest idea for you to accept. Your traditional “parent tapes” will kick in and you will always try to save your Teamers. Don’t! Give them the task properly defined and let them do it. Meet with them and talk with them but don’t control how they do the task. Ask them for their plans. Listen to their problems and concerns but make them be responsible for completing the task or project.
Many Middles simply won’t let their Teamers fail since they are fearful of the impact it might have on their Senior’s view of their performance. Trust me, it is not a “good thing” to overhear Coworkers talking negatively about the performance of one of your Teamers while doing your business in the restroom!
If your Teamer fails, help them to learn the lessons they need to improve and not make the same mistakes on the next project or task. Use a Post-Mortem meeting to help with this. This root- cause analysis and team problem-solving session can help identify the problem(s) made by your Teamer(s) and the reason(s) why. This information can help you set up appropriate problem and error elimination goals and establish expectations and targets for upcoming projects to help your Teamers be successful.
You can think of them as your “children” and consider how to be their parent, helping them live and learn to be the best of their ability, but you must be willing to let them fail.
“Show me a man that never makes a mistake and I’ll show you a man that doesn’t try to do too much.”
- Shelby L. Meyer Sr.
Fear of YOUR Failure
“But I know people who are still flagellating themselves over mistakes that they made twenty years ago. ‘I should have done this,’ and ‘I should have done that.’ Well, it is tough that you didn’t. But who knows what surprises there are in tomorrow? Learn to say ‘Bon apetite.’ Sit down and oink out on today! Life is a picnic. And you can make some mistakes. Nobody said you were perfect. It might even be more interesting.”
- Leo Buscaglia
Living, Loving & Learning
You need to “let your Teamers fail” to empower them and you must do the same. Take risks, and you will fail, but if you don’t take risks, you won’t achieve much. Think of it this way, you are human, and therefore at least prone to making mistakes, but forgive yourself and move on to another challenge. If you don’t do that, how can you expect your Teamers to do that too? You must live by example on this one!
Simply learn from your mistakes and look for your next risk, challenge or opportunity.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
- Albert Einstein
I wish you empowerment, happiness and every success!