Whether you work at a growing start-up or your company’s name has turned into a verb, you’re going to have setbacks—big and small. You’ve probably experienced this a few times over the course of your career, and if not, call me. I’ll share a few of my spectacular screw-ups.
So, how do you recover gracefully? Here are some ideas (and hiding under your desk is not one of them):
Ask questions. Listen. Repeat. This is my #1 advice for a lot of communications challenges. Depending on what happened, you may want to go on a roadshow, set up virtual focus groups, invite employees to lunch, or simply set up a post-mortem meeting. Whatever you do, get out there! Encourage your colleagues to speak about their experience so you can hear the good, the bad and the ugly. In fact, there may be many aspects of the project that went well. When something goes wrong, even if it’s small, we have an uncanny ability to focus only on the negative. How will you know what worked and what didn’t if you don’t ask?
Acknowledge and apologize. Admitting failure isn’t easy, but it goes a long way in gaining trust and building a culture of smart risk-taking and transparency. You can keep your acknowledgement short and then focus on what will be different next time. If it’s appropriate to apologize, do so and do it quickly.
Pilot programs whenever you can. At Brilliant Ink, we’re big fans of gaining buy-in by piloting a program before rolling it out a global audience. This allows you to make tweaks before you go big, and employees are typically more patient when they know your program is still in beta.
Time away. A weekend, even a day off, can do wonders on your perspective and mood.
You are your own worst critic. And don’t forget it!
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Theodore Roosevelt quotes—if you’re a Brene Brown fan you’ll know it:
“It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the (wo)man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”
So get out there, get in the arena and get dirty!