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I messed up!

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

This weekly tweak is part of our series to make work better together - get it direct to your inbox.

When was the last time you made a mistake?

If you're human, it was probably within the last week. 🤭

In our working environment, we need to create a culture where it's okay to make mistakes. And even more importantly admit them. This doesn't mean that we make the same mistakes over and over again. It means that we make mistakes, own them, learn from them, iterate, and improve.

Psychological safety

This creates psychological safety, where it's safe to make mistakes and speak up. Psychological safety is where individuals feel comfortable and safe to express themselves, take risks, and share their thoughts and ideas without fear of negative consequences.

It means continuous improvement and innovation can become a reality rather than buzzwords.

A Better Work Tweak - Celebrate failure

Our tweak of the week is to find your way to celebrate failure. One way to do this is to have a "Fuck Up Friday," where everyone comes together to admit and celebrate their mistakes. This is not only a great way to bond with your team but also a way to continuously learn from our mistakes. Our team in A Better Work gets together and does this every so often. It starts off slow and usually ends in hysterics of laughter as we regale our cringiest moments and celebrate the learnings as a result.

A Tweak to make it even better

It’s on everyone to create a safe environment. Everyone needs to show they aren’t judging, they are in it with you, and they are vulnerable. Use positive verbal, facial expression, and body language cues to indicate that you are supporting the person admitting their failures and mistakes. This is 10 times more important If you're in a leadership position. Consider how you respond when you hear about failures and mistakes. If your initial reaction is panic, take a moment to remember that the person is admitting their mistake because they feel it's safe to do so. As a leader, it's your job to create a safe space where people can speak up, take responsibility, and learn from their mistakes without fear.

Amy Edmondson's book The fearless organisation, gives a great example of a healthcare environment where people were given the opportunity to report all of their mistakes. In hospitals with high levels of psychological safety, there were actually more mistakes reported. However, when they went deeper, they found that there were actually fewer mistakes. People were just more willing to admit them, take responsibility, and fix them. This, in fact, creates a safer environment for patients and higher-performing teams.

So, let's create a working environment where it's safe to make mistakes and learn from them. If you want to receive the weekly tweak directly in your inbox, make sure to subscribe. Best of luck with this week's tweak, and let's make work better together!

Michelle Wallace


A Better Work


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