Posts Tagged ‘open communication’

Put Your Mistakes Under the Microscope to Improve Your Work

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer column, The View from HR.

We spend too little time celebrating our workplace mistakes. They deserve dissection, truth and reflection. Too often they receive denial, excuses and burial.

There is so much focus today on finding your strengths. Consider the common parenting advice to use only reinforcement in redirecting child behavior. There is even a movement to replace “weaknesses” in the time-tested business SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis because the word is too harsh!

This over-emphasis on positive is having a negative effect!

Mistakes are the mothers’ milk of change and growth. All the praise in the world (while it feels nice and has good effects) will not create needed change. Mistakes have the power to mold our thinking and our skills in ways that triumphs never will.

If you define mistakes broadly, and not just as small errors and omissions, they include bad habits and unproductive traits. Until you decide to understand and own your mistakes, the path to improvement remains hidden. Robert Frost wrote of the road less traveled. A truthful and open review of mistakes (big and small) is the less traveled, and shortest, road to real improvement.

Open discussion

Celebration of mistakes means applying the same passion to weaknesses as you bring to successes. Think of a person at work who takes their mistakes to the team or manager, and has responded well to criticism. Did your opinion of them go up or down? Did their impact at work improve or decrease?

Owning your mistakes and using them to grow makes good things happen.

Learning from mistakes is the most basic benefit of owning your mistakes. Only skeletons come from buried problems.

Trust develops between you and others if you are just as willing to discuss your problems as your strengths. Imagine what could be accomplished if everyone behaved this way!

Open discussion of mistakes and needed changes helps you work harder to improve. Think of it like telling your friends you stopped smoking.

Ownership of all behaviors, good and not-so-good, is the best way to demonstrate to others the treatment you expect in return.

Early recognition

Skilled managers know how to help employees make the most of mistakes while preserving a motivation to grow. Less-experienced managers need proactive help from the mistake-maker to maximize improvements. Every manager should be pleased and impressed if you bring your mistakes to them in the right spirit and with a plan of action.

Owning mistakes may include early recognition of a skills gap or a troublesome personality trait. Both can be improved if addressed early. Allowing a reputation for poor aptitude or attitude to harden can make success at any workplace difficult. This is an important discussion to have right now with your manager to get on a corrective path.

So many of us hide our mistakes that there is little danger of overdoing all this openness. Employees who acknowledge problems and work toward solutions get the best work opportunities. It starts with owning all your mistakes, big and small.

For additional guidance, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Strategies for Creating Highly-Efficient Teams

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

You have worked on teams since grade school. Some of your experiences with teams have been rewarding, leading to success, and some have been unpleasant, leading to unresolved conflicts and missed opportunities. As an HR professional, you know that there are many teams within your organization, which is the largest team. Knowing how to shape teams to benefit the productivity of your company will help employees reach business goals more creatively, collaboratively and efficiently.

Back in grade school, there was always at least one member of the team who did not want to pull his weight. In a company setting, laziness should not be permitted. A well-engineered team can accelerate problem-solving and propel innovation to create unprecedented success for your organization. So, it is important for all staff members to play their parts.

Teamwork

Try implementing some of the techniques below to invoke positive team-building skills at your organization:

  • Create measurable goals. Unattainable goals will take a team nowhere. Base team objectives on prior business performance and the strengths of each member. Aggressiveness for obtaining goals is good, but being unrealistic in aspirations will waste time.

 

  • Establish expectations. Delegation and accountability are essential for maintaining a great team dynamic. Make sure everyone knows their role and what they are responsible for in order to meet deadlines and achieve results.

 

  • Advocate for open communication. One of the greatest benefits of team work is the diversity and creativity that comes from bringing people of various backgrounds and skill sets together. However, this also means that conflict can occur. Encourage each team member to express their opinions and ideas freely while also listening and respecting the views of others.

 

  • Do not settle. It is excellent when teams assemble strong workflows that yield many positive outcomes. Having success is satisfying, but you can always work harder to attain better results or develop a more productive process. Periodically hold discussions with team members to see if there are areas in which the group can improve and grow.

 

For more information on forming effective teams at your workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

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