Humanergy loves helping people learn new best practices that become fluid habits. Although we could write a lengthy white paper on the topic, in short, habit development typically requires that people master new ideas and tangible skills, practice them on real-life situations and apply them right away at work. We definitely orient towards what to do, yet it’s also helpful to have clarity on what to avoid.

Some of the most powerful lessons are gleaned from failure. Understanding the pitfalls of not communicating well, for example, can be highly motivational. Adult learning theory also backs this up. Past experiences, including mistakes, are powerful learning tools.

What does this have to do with you?

  1. When delegating, make sure you highlight both best practices and what must be avoided. Use examples from the past – the good and the bad (maybe even the ugly!).
  2. When coaching, make sure that people are aware of the potential to have a strong, even negative, reaction to feedback. This is natural and to be expected, but often people think they have to be just fine with hearing unfavorable perspectives. In order to move on and embrace the assessment, it’s important to work through the problem areas, not around them.
  3. When training, have participants share their horror stories, or at least the situations in which their practice has been poor. Recognize the barriers to great performance, then move to how they can achieve better results with new thinking.

It is always more effective to focus on what is going well as a springboard for improvement. However, don’t ignore past mistakes and the valuable learning they bring. Otherwise, like the weeds in the garden, problems will multiply. “Like success, failure is many things to many people. With positive mental attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, and a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order to prepare to try again.” –W. Clement Stone