How To Get Your Team To Take Risks

Leaders are risk-takers. They push the boundaries and plow new paths. They know this is the way to new success.

Your team, however, may not be as excited about risk as you are. They’re looking to hold onto their jobs, not rock the boat, and to make sure their work gets done without much interruption.

Man on a dirt bike jumping a gap.

Photo by Ricardo Arce

Risk is not something the normal team member wants to take.

And that’s a crying shame.

Yet, many leaders have created this atmosphere or inherited it. Previous leaders have reprimanded their team members when they’ve taken a risk and something blew up.

Is it any wonder team members are scared to take a risk? NO!

You can change this fear mindset. You can help your team become risk-takers. Let’s look at ways you can do this.

How To Get Your Team To Take Risks

Reward failed risks:

You may wonder why I lead with this one. I think it is the most important step in getting your team to take risks.

For far too long, those not in leadership have been discouraged from taking risks because of the consequences of failure. Previous leaders, maybe even you, have scolded your team when something didn’t go right.

This creates a culture of fear in your team. They’re nervous to try something new because they may hear words of discouragement from you.

The way you reward or punish for risks will determine whether or not your team is willing to take risks in the future.

Show your failures:

Your team may believe your efforts always end in success. You know they don’t. You’ve faced failure multiple times.

Let’s stop hiding our failures. Let’s begin to parade our failures around the office.

When your team begins to see you, the leader, has failed, they will know it is okay to fail.

Give positive feedback:

I loved the story of the two dogs. One is negative. The other dog is positive. A question was posed as to which dog rules their life. The answer? The dog a person feeds.

If you give negative feedback for failures, no one is going to be willing to risk failure. If you give positive feedback for failures, you’re going to see your team begin to risk more.

Give positive feedback. Feed the positive dog!

Show what is learned from failure:

You will see more failures from something risky than from something that is a sure shot. That’s because risks are run the risk of failure.

But, something cool happens when you fail. You can walk away from the failure with new insights into what you were working on.

Use the failures your team has experienced to show the wisdom that has come the failure.

Create a log of failures. Within the log, highlight what was learned. Then send out the new knowledge in a weekly or monthly email.

As people begin to see failure is a learning experience rather than a deadly event, your team will be more willing to step out of the safety net and risk something.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.