Everyday Computing, Features

Admitting Failure

IF like so many people, you use ICT equipment for your work, and you accidentally damaged something, would you quickly report it? If not, your work output would suffer. Eventually, you should expect to explain your reduced productivity to your superiors, assuming that your boss was able to detect the damage or reduced output. Since equipment will eventually fail, especially devices with moving parts like keyboards, ICT workers expect and report failures. Does the same hold true for failures in your work environment?

Working in a blame-free environment has the substantial benefit that someone who makes a mistake has the power to accept responsibility for their error, admit the mistake and learn from the experience, which of course, they should not repeat. Furthermore, others would also learn from that error, and everyone wins! The blame-free environment is designed and structured so that quality and productivity will improve, despite the occasional mishap. The opposite environment, where blame is dished out in heaping helpings, hardly needs to be described. In such a fearful environment, workers will simply cover-up evidence of their mistakes, to avoid being berated, demoted, or found wanting. An environment without the open sharing of mistakes and lessons, forces people to secretly make the same mistakes. But at what cost?

You should recognise the wisdom in others who, admittedly bravely, are open about their mistakes or ignorance, which then motivates their continued learning. A previous line manager once explained, very simply: “If you do not admit to your own areas of weakness, do not expect to receive work-sponsored training before others who may show a need for it.” That candid remark led to a number of overly-negative personal reviews, made to justify attendance at various interesting training courses. Since those days, it is has proven difficult to hear of any failures that do not feature at least the following steps:
1: Admission of the problem;
2: Assessment of its impact;
3: Choosing a potential solution;
4: Implementing change to avoid the problem.

Further problems would reveal that the wrong cause was identified or the wrong change was applied, and eventually, a solution would follow. These steps suggest an appetite for improvement and for accountability. If they are followed, they should prevent similar problems from occurring. For those with an inflated ego, or reputation to protect, admitting failure can be difficult, but in many ways, the worst failure is in overlooking the steps needed to avoid future occurrences.
To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The Voice.

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