Strive for progress, not perfection

This from Jo Cook yesterday got me thinking some more about how we enable and cultivate resilience in and with people at work.

There’s a strong culture which strives for getting things right first time. And in certain areas of work, we absolutely want that to be the case. Policing, medical help, fire service, manufacturing, call centres and more. When we don’t get it right first time in these instances often the consequences are severe and damning.

And what about in an organisational setting? There is an equally strong culture of expecting our people at work to get it right first time. Mistakes are frowned upon and we don’t invest well in learning from mistakes.

How do we typically deal with mistakes?
– sack the person
– chastise them in front of others
– blame others to survive
– carry out an investigation

I’m not even against those things. They are good and useful ways of dealing with mistakes if warranted.

What I’m concerned about is how we enable resilience in an organisation so that people can make mistakes in a safe environment without fearing repercussions.

We can quote the likes of start up technology companies who have this as de facto operation, but what about companies and organisations with legacy memories and ways of working? They’re the ones suffering because they aren’t allowed to learn and develop from mistakes.

And at a more professionally relevant level, how do we in L&OD build this in when designing learning sessions? Do we prime them in the right way? Do we allow people to make mistakes safely?

I think we do, and we’re always conscious of application back in the day job. So we do action planning and follow up sessions. And with people being more willing to share their learnings and document it in some way, this allows the learning to bed in better.

The question I wonder is, do we pay enough attention to the fact we are actually developing resilience or are we just concerned about delivering a good learning session?

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “Strive for progress, not perfection”

  1. Sukh, as ever you raise a good question?

    In simple terms I see that as a question of delivery v’s facilitation. Its a fine line often between delivering agreed content and working with the agenda of the group/learners.
    I struggle with the view that we can create a safe place to learn if sticking to an agenda around a good learning session, how much does that say about our own learning as a trainer/facilitator?

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