If I had to draw out my vision of what my career was going to look like when I first became a manager, I would have drawn a line something like:
But after 20 years, if I drew what my career has actually looked like, it would look something like:
While most of us might have the same idea of our career path - or the career paths of others - the reality is that it never looks the way we originally envisioned it. Career paths are rarely a perfect straight line. They can involve unexpected turns, stops, failings, and mistakes.
However, development efforts skip the opportunity to instill lessons around how to respond to these rejections and failures. Employers should want to create a culture where employees learn from mistakes, and where failure and constructive feedback are part of the career journey. By helping team members safely fail in their day-to-day tasks and projects, they are better able to build confidence, which can lead to more positive thinking. Which can lead to new ideas. Which can lead to better resilience in their careers.
But this focus can also lead to positive results for your company as research confirms that companies who allow employees to safely fail in their work leads to increased sales and productivity.
Allowing failure in someone's career doesn’t mean we need to accept laziness or poor decision making. However, designing resilience in your team members can help them ensure how to own, learn, and ultimately create success throughout their career.