I love articles like this. I love that they speak to what we all inherently know and feel and understand to be true and right in the world. And I love that in this case it provides insights from those in places that do this well, as it gives hope that we can all achieve the same.
I also struggle with them, as not only someone who studies and practices in this field but also as a worker who experiences the alternative. We read articles and research and the myriad other pieces of information that confirm our core beliefs in the way we should treat others and be treated, but often when that bubble bursts we are standing or sitting in an environment that is exactly the opposite. So what do we do?
I am a firm believer in demonstrating what we want to see in others. Admit when you make mistakes, and mean it. It definitely isn’t always easy and it certainly can make you more vulnerable, but if all of can continually present our mistakes to others and own them, others may feel more willing to do the same. This helps remove the stigma and hopefully help to influence the culture around you, no matter whether you are have positional authority or not.
We can also attempt to provide feedback and suggestions to those around us on using the many methods of using mistakes for good, not evil. We can suggest articles, books, papers, and more that have information and would be “some interesting reading” in a friendly and caring attempt to help others to see some new ways they could do things. But we cannot always get through, and need to know when to back off.
It can be easy to be positive when we talk about what we should do, or what we know is true, but the reality is that many workplaces out there do not have cultures that support this mentality. Even worse, there are many organizations that do, but some of the managers do not support the same. In these cases, if you have exhausted every avenue, there may be no other choice but to leave the team, group, department, or even the company. Being in an environment that burns you down for mistakes, or having a manager that refuses to admit their own while ensuring that any of your own are glaring, pointed, and clearly spotlighted will suck the very life from you and all work you do. I firmly believe that change can happen, and that the things we know about the interactions between engagement and motivation, leadership, communication, and behaviors is true and important. The catch is that we have to know when the environment and/or people are open to that change.
For leaders, think for a moment on not what your perspective is, but what is the perspective of those that you are in charge of? Do they feel like you are supportive? Do they feel like they can make a mistake? How do you help them? How would you view or treat your employees differently if they were your friends instead of employees?
What do you think? Have you been in a situation like this, as an employee and/or as a leader, and what was it? How did you handle it? What would your recommend to others?