Challenges and conflict are inevitable in any business, and in some cases, mistakes or failure result. While managers can’t always avoid mistakes or failures by their teams, they can use these hurdles as valuable learning experiences and as a springboard to further success.
Mistakes are inevitable, but repeating the same mistakes can be avoided. To help your team learn from its mistakes and avoid similar errors in the future, keep the following things in mind:
- Evaluate what was accomplished. Start with what went right during the process. What did the team achieve? Which parts worked, and how are they related to the parts that did not work? Beginning the conversation with the team’s accomplishments sets a constructive tone. It also helps the team distinguish between good results and results that need improvement. Finally, evaluating what worked well can prevent the company or team from losing the benefits of a project, which is more likely if it is assumed the entire project failed.
- What was learned? Ask team members to describe what they learned from the mistake or failure. Sharing learning experiences allows the team to learn from one another and clarify what changes are needed to avoid future mistakes. In some cases, it may even inspire creativity and innovation, as team members recognize ways to improve processes or solve related problems.
- What went wrong? Pinpoint the source of the mistake or the reason the project failed. This helps the team avoid “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” preserving effective methods and processes while opening ineffective ones to change. When discussing what went wrong, avoid placing blame; the goal is to prevent the problem from occurring again.
- What can be done differently in the future? With a clear sense of what triggered the mistake or failure, your team is equipped to discuss how to avoid the mistake or failure in the future by discussing ways to address the source of the problem. One or more suggestions should be implemented and evaluated as needed.
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