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The Fear of Failure

Didrik from SAYFR presenting

Safety is critical for organizations striving for success. However, many are burning their ropes from both ends.

While systems, controls, and formal procedures play a role, it’s essential to acknowledge that the passion of individuals drives the real work. Unfortunately, the prevalent fear of failure undermines motivation and leads to disengagement, hindering personal and organizational growth. 

In this video, our Head of Business Development and co-founder, Didrik Svendsen, aims to explore the importance of overcoming the fear of failure, transforming organizational culture, and empowering individuals to contribute to sustainable success.

The Counterproductive Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is a common and counterproductive mindset that hampers progress. Systems and controls are often given credit for successful outcomes, while individuals face blame when things go wrong. 

This imbalance leads to disengagement and a stagnant learning environment. By recognizing the negative impact of this fear, organizations can shift their focus from fault-finding to a culture of learning and improvement.

ESG and the People Factor

Organizations must recognize that workers are not the problem but the solution to achieve sustainability goals. Merely adopting a system-centric approach will become a roadblock to progress. Our research shows that widespread fear of failure increases the likelihood of accidents by 400-800%. 

Overcoming this roadblock requires assessing the existing culture and taking steps to transform it. By valuing individuals and their contributions, organizations can create an environment that promotes safety and innovation.

Accelerating Culture Transformation

Traditionally, cultural transformation has been perceived as a long and arduous process – sometimes taking up to ten years. However, advancements in science and technology have paved the way for faster turnarounds. 

Organizations can accelerate the transformation process by embracing eight leadership behaviors that foster a culture of safety and learning. These behaviors will help you locate and address failure, making it easier for employees to voice concerns and adopt a proactive approach to improvement.

Understanding the What and Overcoming Barriers

Learning the “how” is crucial, but understanding the barriers that prevent individuals from implementing these practices is equally important. Organizations must create a safe environment where employees can play out scenarios and comprehend the consequences of failure without real-world repercussions. 

Safe, digital environments enable individuals to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to apply these lessons effectively in their day-to-day work.

Collective Responsibility and Positive Enforcement

In fostering a culture of safety, collective responsibility is vital. Each individual must take action and contribute to building stronger relationships within the organization. Positive enforcement is a powerful tool for recognizing successes and failures, reinforcing a learning mindset. 

Leaders who genuinely care and engage with their teams foster an environment of trust and collaboration, ultimately leading to faster and better results.

Re-balancing Systems and People

Motivation to stay safe lies at the heart of a successful and sustainable organization. By addressing the fear of failure, transforming organizational culture, and empowering individuals, organizations can unlock their full potential for safety and innovation. 

While systems and controls are essential, we argue that organizations should re-balance their focus on people. Empowering individuals release mental energy that allows individuals and organizations to fail smartly and improve safety. 

Let’s embrace the power of motivated individuals and create a brighter, safer future together.

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Didrik Svendsen

Didrik Svendsen

Head of product

Didrik heads strategy and product development, and works with sales and project delivery.