How companies can tackle the fear of failure

August 21, 2018 Alicia Roy



We all make mistakes, we are human after all. But not admitting your mistakes can leave you in hot water and cause some serious problems at work. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 43 percent of the UK population fear failure.  Of course, mistakes are never nice, but if you're really scared to admit them openly in the office, then it's possible a change needs to happen in your company’s culture. But how can this be improved? And why can mistakes actually be good for business too?


It is not easy to talk about your own mistakes. The HR department is often deemed a mistake-free environment, with people only making room for best practices. But it is no coincidence that HR also includes the term human.


This topic is particularly interesting to me and as a result, I participated as a speaker at the HR Failure Night in Vienna. Why? Well, because we can always draw the best conclusions from personal defeats. For example, while waiting for my flight to London at the airport in Vienna after the event, I held "The Radical Leap" by Steve Farber in my hand. The book talks about leadership making mistakes and teaches you how to learn and develop from the mistakes you make. After all, mistakes make us more human and accessible.


Self-esteem building, is it a good thing?


Of course, successes are good for self-esteem, but they can make us unproductive and careless in the long run. It may sound simple, but it’s only through your mistakes that you will learn. This motto seems rather old-fashioned, but it is true. Just two years ago, a professor at Princeton University in the US caused a stir by presenting a deliberately flawed resume. His CV contained all his failures; he listed scholarships he had not received or jobs he was not invited to interview for. For this, the man received a lot of praise. Everyone can fail, but it’s about how you learn from your failures that can truly boost your self-esteem.


Try again, fail again, fail better


The diesel gate scandal at VW has already shown how mistakes can have a huge impact on companies, particularly, if no one wants to take responsibility for the issue. Whereas Silicon Valley companies like Google behave in the exact opposite way. They are often quoted saying that the acceptance of mistakes is regarded as a strength, not a weakness. Instead of finding someone to blame it is more important to learn from the mistake as a company, rather than going on a manhunt for the guilty party. Only if an employee repeatedly makes the same mistake should HR step in and take action. However, having a positive culture around making mistakes does not mean that everyone can do what they want. It's about being able to debate mistakes in a productive way, without being overtly critical and judgemental.


A positive culture around mistakes pays off in the long run


Mistakes can always initiate new learning processes and they should be treated as such. After all, making mistakes also means trying out new ideas and being creative. Of course, some of those ideas may be useless, but then you know how to do it better next time.


If you make a mistake, don’t panic. Take your time and think about how you can turn it on its head and learn from the error.


About the Author

Alicia Roy

With a background in recruitment, Alicia is currently part of the marketing team and helps creating new content as well as building the online brand as a community manager.

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin More Content by Alicia Roy
Previous Flipbook
Welcome to the skills economy - Chapter 3 -  Innovation - How to be curious
Welcome to the skills economy - Chapter 3 - Innovation - How to be curious

Trust is at the heart of working relationship

Next Article
How are we able to protect our jobs from robots
How are we able to protect our jobs from robots

For several years, the threat of the robots coming to steal our jobs has increased. In fact, it has been re...


Please fill out form to access content...

First Name
Last Name
Job Title
Company Size
Subscribe to all communications
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!