This post goes hand in hand with my previous post, TRUST YOUR TEAM. Without trust you will never inspire confidence. To inspire confidence you need to first and foremost allow people to fail. This may seem counter intuitive, but in reality it is the foundation to build confidence. Fear of failure is the number one reason people never take risks. And since risk-taking is the number one trait of successful people, your team will never be successful if they are afraid to fail.

Encourage an environment of risk-taking and learning from failure. Never reprimand failure. If someone tries something and it fails, praise the attempt to solve a problem in a creative or new way. Then identify what can be learned from the failed attempt.

The biggest drain on a manager’s bandwidth is an unconfident employee. They will constantly ask your opinion or direction on problem. Whenever I’m approached with the question, “what should I do here?” or “how should I resolve this issue?” I always ask, “what do you think?” before giving my opinion. If their approach or opinion differs from your opinion simply say, “what about doing it this way instead. What do you think?” If the opinions still differ, you will need to assess the impact of making a decision that differs from you. Overruling differing opinions on a frequent basis will begin to erode the confidence of the employee and they’ll be right back to asking your opinion on every topic.

In order to actively encourage risk taking, you should find yourself saying frequently, “Let’s give it a shot and see what happens”. If the result ends in failure, you should say, “Well, at least we tried.” If it ends in success, congratulate the team or individual for taking the risk and trying a new approach. Celebrate this success in front of the group, to encourage others to take risks in the future.

Although true confidence comes from repeated success, confidence can also come from praise. If someone on our team was successful with a project praise him or her loudly and in front of the group. Praise them to your management or even to other departments if it’s warranted. Make sure you truly believe it – false praise is easily spotted.

However, if areas of weakness are identified, this should not be handled in a group, nor should this be handled with a reprimand. If it is a one time “mistake” consider just ignoring it; after all we are fallible human beings. If the issue is sizable or likely to happen again if not addressed, use it as a learning opportunity. Work with them to find the solution. Ask questions like, “What caused the mistake or failure?” and “How can we prevent it from happening in the future?”

Published by

Eric Davis

Hello. I’m Eric Davis, an award-winning Product Designer and Researcher based in Boise, Idaho. I leverage design thinking and analytics to craft unforgettable experiences. I specialize in navigation, way-finding and understanding through practical designs.

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