Do your employees feel paralyzed by the desire to be perfect? Because of your company's culture and processes, they feel they must never make a mistake, know how to do everything right away, and outperform their colleagues. Sound familiar?
It shouldn't be that way.
"In an era where organizations place such high value on disruption, perfection is not the end goal, and actually, it can't be the end goal," said Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense, a business analytics software company. "Business success today is focused on agility and innovation."
While it's good to aim high, if workers hold themselves to impossible expectations, they'll always fall short. Their confidence will waver until they feel helpless in their own careers. As a leader, you should focus on making your employees feel supported and encouraged. Here's how to prevent perfection paralysis in your workplace.
Every part of a company is important, and without communication and teamwork, your business is unlikely to succeed. But while mediums like email and texting are convenient for quick chats, they shouldn't be the primary form of communication in your company.
"Individuals today shouldn't be afraid to meet with their managers face-to-face or, at minimum, on the phone, to talk through ideas and make decisions in real time," said Orad.
In person, you can avoid tone-related miscommunications, and employees will feel your support as more than just words written on the train or typed hastily before a meeting. In your face-to-face interactions, you should assure your employees that mistakes are not only expected but encouraged.
The fear of failure can be detrimental to performance and hold employees back from reaching their full potential. As a leader, you should take risks yourself to show that it's all right to fail, so long as you're trying.
"In today's fast-paced business landscape, there is no time to wait for everything to align and create a 'sure thing' – this doesn't exist," said Orad. "If employees – or leaders, for that matter – fear failure, it can poison innovation and disruption in the firm."
Reassure your workers that innovation is worth the risk by swallowing your own fear and pushing boundaries. Managers should always reward risks and never punish failure, said Orad.
"Company leaders and managers need to practice what they preach, both in terms of ideating projects and campaigns, but also being advocates for employees who bring disruptive – and possibly risky – innovation to the table," he added.
Encourage new ideas
Your company's culture should make your employees feel like they can speak up about their ideas, regardless of how timid they may be.
"Employees build self-confidence when they see their ideas become reality and receive acknowledgment for their work," said Orad.
However, don't just support ideas that are successful, said Orad – make sure you're giving all valid ideas a chance, even if you're not sure they will work.
"That acknowledgment seems obvious for managers when employees win the proverbial lottery with a big idea, but good managers also need to remember to do it when an employee comes up with an idea that's creative, well-researched, elegant and, unfortunately, wrong," he said.
Taking the time to show your appreciation for your workers' brainstorming, researching and planning process will make them feel more comfortable and excited to share future proposals.