New Mistakes Are Always Welcome

By Lisa Aldisert

Too many people are afraid of making mistakes. They take the safe road and try to stay under the radar. “Good is good enough,” because if they stretch they may make mistakes.

Simply put, they play it safe.

This is a recipe for failure in any innovative, growth-oriented organization. If your employees are timid about expanding into unknown territory, they may stymie your ability to achieve your goals.

I was attending a meeting between a manager and his direct report where it became increasingly clear that this dynamic was playing out. To my delight, the manager said, “New mistakes are always welcome.”

The employee, unfortunately, froze at this mention. His comfort zone had been breached and he was defensive for the rest of the meeting.

Mistakes are welcome for many reasons. It means you’re trying new things. It implies that you’re not satisfied with the status quo. A mistake may inadvertently lead to a new solution.

You get the idea. I have two caveats to this advice. First, if someone keeps making the same mistake continually, it’s a big red flag that you aren’t paying attention. People need to learn from their mistakes, not repeat them.

Second, your organizational culture needs to embrace the philosophy of welcoming mistakes. If it’s a punitive environment, it won’t work.

Employees who are defensive and resistant to entering into this unknown territory may hold back your team. Create a safe haven for them to try, and encourage them along the way.