As you go about the process of determining when and how to let people fail, ask yourself these three questions:
- What is the potential cost of the failure to the department and the company?
- What is the potential cost of the failure to the person?
- What is the potential cost of the failure to you, the manager?
In some cases the costs will be too high. If either the company, the person, or you will be severely hurt by the failure of a person in a particular situation, you will want to do everything you can to avoid it. As you determine the cost of a potential failure you will want to compare the cost to the benefit the person may receive from the learning experience.
You will also want to consider the perceptions of the people outside your area and how they will view the failure. Others may not be as enlightened as you in terms of seeing failure as a part of the process of achieving success.
How do you create an environment where people aren’t afraid to fail?
Creating an environment where people are not afraid to fail is a difficult task. Again, your job is to reverse ingrained patterns of thinking. Because of prior conditioning, most people are terrified of failure. It will take work on your part to get people to see failure as a positive experience in their lives rather than as something that have the potential to hurt or destroy them.
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