The Art & Science of Delegation Embraces Failed Attempts

Failure is not a brick wall!

Managers must understand the interplay of failure as a key ingredient for success. One of the most common problems with delegation or important projects and assignments is not considering the chances of failure and understanding how important that is to ultimate success.

 We are talking about projects and assignments that are larger in scale, involve innovation, creativity, developing something new and different and looking for quantum increases in productivity.

Is Failure a Positive Option? 

I was reading the September 2013 edition of National Geographic and was taken aback by the article Failure Is an Option – Where would we be without it? By Hannah Block. The more I read, the more fascinated I became and the more I associated the theme with the issues and problems in the delegation plan and delegating assignments.

Managers and executives, unlike the explorers in the article, fear failure and go to great ends to avoid failure at any cost. Seems logical, right? The reality is quite the opposite for high-performance teams. It is the bold efforts and attempts to achieve greatly that create initial failures. Yet if businesses did not encounter failure they would not be driven and motivated to reevaluate projects and initiatives, brain-storm better approaches and get dynamic thinking working.

 No matter how well thought-out and planned a project or assignment is at the outset, set-backs and failures occur. Success is the result of efforts made to over-come obstacles and failures. In a sense, in dynamic and forward thinking projects, you can’t have one without the other. The manager, the team and the individuals involved in the assignments gain immensely from the information and re-thinking that comes from persisting through failures.

learning from a business failure

Do Not Mask Your Failures – Learn from them!   CC BY CCO Public Domain

Success is about revising your approach based on experience

Setbacks and failures in the pursuit of outstanding business results allow people to revise their approach or change the thinking that led to a set back. This failure to success feed-back loop is absolutely necessary to achieve real performance. The focus resulting from a set-back becomes the driver of thinking more precisely about the next action. In order to delegate work more effectively, and avoid micro-management that stifles initiative, managers need to accept that initial set-backs will ultimately lead to successful results if the environment for performance allows for the chance of failure.

Calculated Risk Taking Breeds Growth if Delegated Properly

Think about the challenging world of business today where technology companies, scientific endeavors and innovation.  The successful organizations totally understand the chance of initial failures and the tremendous boost of “negative results” to their ultimate success.  This calculated risk-taking, particularly in entrepreneurial start-ups, is a core competency for driving forward to the objective. Here are some key statistics to support the effects of failure and success:

  • In broad industry categories, around 50% of the business start-ups are still operating after 4 years.
  • In the technology arena, over 70% of companies have had to face one or more project failures in the prior 12 months.

 For managers who are building a delegation plan around an important project or assignment, determining the level of freedom and experimentation to allow their empowered employees, will be a key factor in achieving the desired results. One technique to manage the process is to make absolutely sure to debrief the team on progress frequently and to address set-backs and failures quickly. The questions should be around “what did we learn”, how do we avoid this going forward” and what new direction should we pursue.”

Mangers can crate an atmosphere where people can grow

Create an atmosphere that does not fear failure but embraces the opportunity it affords the business unit to learn, re-adjust, reassess and find a path to ultimate success.

Video Resource | Motivation from Famous Failures



Michael D. Moore is the publisher of Management By Delegation and is a veteran executive with 40+ years in the Banking and Insurance Industries. A devoted entrepreneur, using his business experience to provide resources for managers and leaders at all levels. For the last 5 years, he has built a growing web presence for helping people with personal and professional development. To learn more about these advanced concepts & join our group Click here 5 Must Have Management Skills

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