Are you allowing your employees to F-Up?

How mistakes can enhance your company culture.

Recently I came across the global movement called FuckUp nights which is a concept similar to what we had at my family business. The movement is popular not only amongst companies but also amongst entrepreneurs. It reminded me of an initiative we had at my family business.

Several years ago, in an effort to minimise losing customers  we (Virardi - our family business) introduced a simple, ‘innovative’ and above all pleasant exercise which we called “The Mistake of the Month‟. 

Once a month we used to get together and give every member of the Virardi team the opportunity to “confess" his or her mistake and describe the corrective measures that were taken. Bearing the reciprocity principle in mind people will probably forgive a person if that person owns up to their mistake and, especially, if they take measures to correct it. All the mistakes were then put to a vote to determine the “Mistake of the Month‟, with an invaluable prize awarded to the winner. The winner was the member who collected the most votes. The end result? We become aware of clients who may have had a complaint to voice but had no ‘voice’ to complain. In addition, whilst cultivating an environment based on trust, initially among our team members, and by extension between our company and our clients we improved our customer service and experience. Customer loyalty was also nurtured. 

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), as well as many other similar organisations tracking and analysing business initiatives, the success/failure ratio of business projects over the last years, has consistently been 30/70. That is  30% success and 70% failure! Yes, you can go back and read that again. I did the same when researching it. This is probably a statistic the large majority of us do not feel comfortable with. 

The good news is that regardless of the industry you are active in, or the type of your projects, you can aim to be successful 100%. How? Build and share your success stories, but be equally intentional and brave in sharing your failures and lessons learned. Commit your team in doing the same and reward them for their failures.

By doing this, you will be 100% successful at:

  • gaining the trust, respect and support from your people
  • gaining the trust, respect and support from your clients
  • understanding and addressing the development needs of your business and turning them into a competitive advantage
  • saving time, money and frustration when dealing with similar situations in the future
  • building a healthy, safe and empathetic environment, which is the absolute key for a long-lasting and meaningful (people) experience.

So I am asking you, friends and fans, are you celebrating your mistakes or are you hiding them under the carpet? Do you provide an environment of psychological safety where your employees feel comfortable to admit their mistakes and move on? In other words, do you allow them to fuck up?

Until next time,

Michael R. Virardi