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Anyone that reads this blog knows I love quotes. They’re incredible lessons wrapped up in little nuggets. I came across one yesterday that really got me thinking and piecing things together. The quote is “A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after a success.” – Unknown. Think about those words for a moment. Let them mull in your brain. When an employee fails, is giving encouragement your go to response? If you’re like most, I’m willing to bet No.

Think about it though, it really makes sense. Sure your employees want to be recognized for doing things right, we all do. But how much more important is it to let them know that you believe in them and care about them when they fail? Instead of letting them feel bad because they failed and actually adding to it by getting upset and making them feel worse, you build them up and reinforce the fact that they’re a good person.

The best way to deal with the failure is for you first to see this as an opportunity to build up your employee with encouraging words and then reframe the failure as a lesson in your employee’s mind. You can do this by asking three simple questions.

  1. What part did you play in this? When you allow blame, excuses, and denial in your business, you and your employee can’t get better. Nothing ever gets better if your employee doesn’t accept responsibility for their part (and you too as a matter of fact). Once you’ve created a culture of accountability, commitment, and responsibility, everyone will know that owning the failure isn’t about placing blame. It’s about claiming the power to make things better.
  2. What did you learn? Look for the lesson buried within the failure. Identify what was done correctly and what could have done better or differently. This question is key because if it isn’t asked and answered honestly, you and your staff are doomed to repeat the failure.
  3. What are you going to do the next time differently? This question creates a plan that will result in a better outcome. It may not be a perfect plan, but you can tweak it as you go. It takes what you learned and applies it to actions while the event is still fresh in everyone’s mind. If you stop at what you learned, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to remember what to do the next time.

To be clear, this thought process won’t work on the employee that keeps making the same mistake over and over again. Instead, it’s for the great employee you have that in some way dropped the ball. When you can encourage your employee when they mistake, you’re going to show them how AMAZING they are!

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