Giving Ourselves Room to Make Mistakes

The fear of doing the wrong thing often gets in the way of doing anything at all.

Many people tend to value mistake-free workplaces much more than honest, resilient ones. It is important to acknowledge that mistakes can be valuable learning tools, if they are recognised and responded to appropriately and in a timely manner.

resilient workplace is one that:

  • recognises people will make mistakes
  • encourages rigour and accountability
  • supports people to value and repair relationships
  • supports people to develop resilience in themselves and their teams
  • supports continual staff growth, learning and development

As you reflect and work to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you are likely to make some mistakes from time to time in expanding your efforts. Consider how you tend to feel when you realise you’ve made a mistake, or when someone suggests you’ve made a mistake or said or done something hurtful (whether intentionally or unintentionally). The following reflective questions can be helpful to ask yourself.

  • Do you struggle to admit that you may have made a mistake, or does that come naturally to you?
  • Do you become defensive, or do you remain open to the conversation?
  • Do you switch off, or do you demonstrate a willingness to understand what may have happened or what impact it may have had?
  • Do you find it easy or difficult to apologise to others?

We all have areas that we can work to improve on, so it’s important to reflect honestly. Take responsibility for recognising and acknowledging such mistakes when they happen, apologise and effectively communicate what went wrong, and what steps you can take to do better in future. Consider what learnings might benefit your broader team, division or site, and how those learnings might best be communicated.