If you attended our webinar last week, you know that when you come to an employee with feedback, they often have a fight or flight response similar to being presented with a dangerous situation. Psychologically, this is not a good place to for open and honest communication.

In order to reduce the fear your employees have, and create an environment where effective communication can occur take a moment to consider how your leaders respond to employee mistakes. Perhaps your leaders need to look at failure and mistakes from another perspective. A recent article from Entrepreneur gives five reasons that mistakes are important for your organization.

  1. It creates a more open and honest environment. Employees who are afraid of the repercussions of even a small mistake are more likely to cover-up or hide those mistakes rather than finding a solution. This means that the mistakes could snowball into bigger situations rather than addressing them immediately and learning from them. Encourage employees to admit when a mistake is made and help top find a solution. Reward employees who come to you and say, “I messed up, this is why it happened and this is how I plan to fix it.” rather than punishing them.
  2. It creates a more positive learning culture. Accepting that some failure or mistakes will happen means that employees will be more willing to admit when they don’t know how to do something. Instead of faking it, encourage employees to actually take the time to learn how a job should be done.
  3. It leads to a more innovative team. If you are encouraging employees to find solutions when mistakes are made, it will push them to think creatively. It will also allow employees to take more calculated risks as they are not so afraid of failing that they avoid trying anything new.
  4. You will actually see fewer mistakes. When your employees are focused so intently on not making mistakes, they actually make more of them. It is true that what you focus on grows. Focus on successes and learning opportunities instead of failures and mistakes.
  5. Your team will be happier. A fear of failure can cause your employees to dread coming to work each day. Releasing that tension will allow your employees to be happier and more productive.

If your employees fear receiving feedback, you may need to consider how you respond to employee mistakes. Having a culture that fears failure rather than embracing the opportunity to learn from mistakes, can make it difficult for leaders to provide constructive employee feedback.