One easy way to help create a space where employees feel safe to speak freely and without fear are regular Mistake Meetings.
Workplace Relations Specialist Mary Ann Baynton says mistakes at work are often hidden for fear of reprimand. But hidden problems can cause long-term workplace pain if they aren’t fixed, not to mention a negative culture as the errors become realised by other people.
Instead, Baynton says Mistake Meetings encourage employees to talk about what they’ve done wrong, and then work together with other colleagues to find solutions.
She says it shows employees that making mistakes is okay, sharing them prevents other people from making the same error and colleagues can work together on ways to avoid them.
Baynton says workplace leaders can set the tone by sharing one or more mistakes they have made since the last meeting, and either how they corrected it or ask for help to solve it. Seeing other people share their mistakes also helps to build trust and make colleagues more likely to be upfront about their own errors even outside of these mistake meetings.
If a team or workplace prefers, they can use the word “challenge” rather than mistake.
Also, firm ground rules should be set that no-one is to be ridiculed for their mistake.
Baynton says the benefits of Mistake Meetings are that, over time, employees should become more open about errors rather than hiding them, and it provides an opportunity for valuable team work.
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