Failure Actually Is an Option


We’ve all heard the saying, “Failure is not an option.” While that may seem like a powerful motivational mantra, it’s simply not true in the real world. In business, failure is not only an option, it’s an opportunity. The most effective business leaders are like great coaches – they understand that when their teams lose, it’s the result of a failed collective effort. They analyze the game, discover what went wrong, and fix it so it won’t happen again.

Top 5 Reasons Teams Fail

There are many reasons why employee teams might fall short of your expectations on a project or an assignment. Here are the top five.

#1 – Lack of Commitment

Measurable goals inspire team commitment. When everyone knows how their success will be measured, they’ll work together to exceed expectations. It’s not just about the final score –the smaller metrics matter, too. Think about it this way: a team can win a game it played poorly or lose a game it played well. The same is true in the workplace. Employees will be more committed when they can celebrate small successes on their way to achieving their team goals.

#2 – Bad Game Plan

As a team leader, your employees count on you to provide clear direction, and it’s up to you to make sure you deliver. When you make an assignment or start a project, discuss resources, deadlines, goals, and expectations. It’s okay if you have to change the plan in the middle of the game, but everyone involved needs to understand why it happens and how it impacts what they need to do.

#3 – Not Enough Practice

Before assigning a task or project, consider the skills that are needed to complete it. If you’re not providing relevant training, you’re setting employees up for failure before they even get started.

#4 – Free-for-all Execution

To be an effective team leader, you must give your employees a level of freedom that corresponds with their level of expertise. Don’t leave new team members to fend for themselves, and don’t micromanage employees who know what they’re doing. Use on-the-job training, mentoring, and feedback to guide your team toward its goals.

#5 – Poor Coaching

When your team falls short of your expectations, take a look in the mirror. Were goals well defined? Was the plan flawed? Were team members properly trained? Did you provide enough guidance? Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” Whether or not teams win or lose, they still analyze the film to find ways they can improve before the next game. You and your team should do the same.

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