Challenges Propel Improvement

Written by Di Princell

January 14, 2022

Never be afraid to fail. Failure is only a stepping stone to improvement ~ Tony Jaa

I remember my young daughter’s disheartening basketball coach yelling at the team “don’t shoot the ball unless you are going to make it.” Naturally, the team was afraid to shoot the ball so they never scored enough points to win. An enlightened coach would have said “shoot the ball until you make it.” Giving the girls permission to miss the basket without fear of blame would have released their potential. This same philosophy in the workplace is liberating: push yourself, learn from mistakes, and use your knowledge to improve. Slam dunk!

Generally, employees who fear recrimination from a mistake will work at a slower, more cautious pace than employees who are empowered to push their limits while embracing mistakes as a part of the learning process. Pointing fingers is demoralizing to a staff; improving the system so it does not happen again is empowering.

The fearful employees get acclimated to finger pointing, avoiding blame, so as their anxiety increases, they build up their defense systems, inventing excuses for an unintentional error. Eventually, their confidence starts to erode which in turn inhibits their motivation to take on new challenges. Often these employees get stuck in their positions, never achieving their competency levels, and assuming a low profile which keeps them out of the target range of their punitive supervisors.

A finger-pointing chemistry can spread through an office like the unexpected flu bug. If my boss is ranting at me and I don’t have an outlet, I might gripe at a fellow employee or be insensitive to a client. A fearful environment creates a vigilant team that is wary of each other, always wondering where and when the next shoe will fall. The employees start to feel demoralized which feeds emotional insecurity and discourages positive interaction. I believe that fear of reprisal in a workplace can break down a healthy immune system and be the source behind employee absence and illness.

The empowered employees understand that the learning process feeds off mistakes as part of the education. When a problem occurs, there should be a process in place, a go-to person or support team, depending on the size of the issue, to educate them through the resolution. This proactive safety net allows employees to reach farther and take chances with their skills that they wouldn’t ordinarily attempt. As the data analytics team at RIBBIT says – – A mistake is an opportunity for growth. If you aren’t making them, you aren’t pushing yourself to learn new things.

Shawn Princell, CEO of RIBBIT, shares – “Some of the brightest moments at RIBBIT have occurred when facing a challenge. Our enlightened team embraces the resolution process as an opportunity for examination, feedback, training, and imaginative solutions.” A productive response to challenges is how successful companies, like RIBBIT, distinguish themselves with superior, cutting-edge products. It reinforces the message that a collaboration of intelligent minds is a powerful entity.

Life is all about the process; you can be afraid of it, limiting your potential on this planet, or you can embrace it, by accepting the problems as part of the universal solution.  

Stay tuned….


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