Being a part of the working world, we’ve all encountered moments of failure. Take this scenario for example: You’ve been assigned a task, you’ve completed your research, and you believe you’ve done all you could do to prepare—however, things still don’t work out in your favor. While we all recognize the importance of learning from our mistakes, employees can struggle to bounce back from missteps. From a project that didn’t meet its target objectives to an important missed deadline, what is the best course of action to take to help your employees recover?
Employees can take on failure in one of two ways:
1) People can bounce back from their mistakes with a clear mind and resolve.
2) People can feel crushed, lose confidence and even stop doing the things that made them successful.
How you communicate with your employees can have a huge influence on their performance. For the nonprofit sector in particular, it’s crucial to maximize what limited bandwidth there is—in order to achieve steep mission objectives. When building resilience in your employees, you must consider the tactics that work and don’t work when restoring an employee’s confidence.
While building up an employee’s self-image or giving a pep talk is harmless, it doesn’t seem to provide much help to the situation at hand. A pep talk can gloss over the failure rather than addressing the problem (and potential solution) head on. To be their guide to move on from the disappointment and better manage his or her emotions is essential. Also, encouraging people to forgive themselves, while still holding themselves accountable for their mistakes, is a beneficial tactic for people to build upon their mishaps.
Follow this simple 3-step model to bounce back from failure:
1) Acceptance- People need to come to terms with the fact that they made a mistake and understand why. This helps people own their failures.
2) Forgiveness- Encourage employees to forgive themselves. Use empathetic wording, such as “This is a tough job; you’re not the only one that is having a hard time” or “Try not to beat yourself up over this.”
3) Planning- Help employees plan their way forward. Figure out what they can do to fix the damage, if possible, and how to avoid making a similar mistake in the future.