Why failing every week builds a strong workplace culture

How often do you publicly admit that you’ve made a mistake at work?

Three weeks ago I sat with one of The Physio Co‘s leaders and apologised. I’d made a big mistake, so, from the bottom of my heart I apologised and asked if he would forgive me. Luckily, my apology was accepted and we started working on a solution.

The reason I said I was sorry is because I was wrong. I didn’t mean it, but, I’d got it wrong. I’d been expecting him to achieve something that, based on the skills and resources I’d allocated, was simply unachievable. What I’d been asking from him was completely unfair.

Every week, I publicly admit to making a mistake at work. I admit the mistake, share the failure and genuinely apologise to anyone that my mistake has affected. As CEO of The Physio Co, I have a promise, or KPI, that I will publicly admit a failure every single week. And someone holds me accountable to it.

Mistakes or failures happen. I don’t know anyone who sets out to fail, but, I do admire people who are willing to risk failure to try something new. The reason I try new things is because I think I might find a better way. When I succeed, it feels awesome and I’m usually excited to share my success with anyone that will listen. I find that most of the people I know are the same with their successes. But it’s not always the case when we fail.

One of the risks of trying new things is that it might not work out. It might fail. And failing is OK. As long as we learn from the failure and move a step closer to getting it right in the future then the failure was probably worth it.

Open and honest communication that includes sharing failures is critical to building a strong culture. Why? Because it shows vulnerability; it shows humility and it shows a commitment to constantly improving. New mistakes are a sure sign that progress is being made and authentic sharing of those mistakes will build a stronger culture.

If you’re looking for a more measurable benefit of sharing failures, try this: by sharing a failure, one person can save all the other people in your team from making that same mistake. Imagine the time you could save if every mistake in your business was only ever made once!

Every failure is one step closer to success. Please keep making new mistakes and sharing what you learn with the rest of us.

How are mistakes and failures managed in your team? Please share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

Tristan White is a husband to Kimberley and a dad to little Alexandra. He’s a qualified physiotherapist, ironman triathlete, blogger and CEO of The Physio Co – Australia’s eighth Best Place to Work. His passion is to build a strong family and workplace culture and share what he learns with the world. Tristan’s Culture is Everything blog was ranked by SmartCompany as one of Australia’s 25 Best Business Blogs in 2011.


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