• Carrie-Ann Wade

Two Minute Mentor - Reframing Failure

There will be times in our careers where things don't go according to plan, so this Two Minute Mentor session is focused on reframing failure. If you would prefer to listen to the session you can via the Comms Hero podcast mini-series.


Many of the communications professionals that I've worked with say they find it really challenging when they feel like they've failed in the workplace, and I myself have been in that boat, many times, so I know exactly how you feel.


Maybe you didn't get the job that you went for that you really wanted. Or perhaps you received some negative feedback about an issue that you've been dealing with at work. More often than not for us in communications, it can also be linked to dealing with difficult reputation management issues, and dealing with the media. I like to think that in all of these situations there are opportunities to reframe that failure and learn from it.


Whatever the situation is, first of all, it's okay to feel like it's not okay. That's only natural. You can wallow in that for a bit, and no matter how many times people say to you, "Don't worry. It's okay.", you'll feel like it isn't. But I promise you, it is okay. When things go wrong there is always something that you can learn from.


So my top tips would be to take some time out to reflect on the situation. Grab a notebook or whatever it is you use to make your notes, maybe it's on your phone or your laptop, and start to consider and answer a few questions.


Firstly, think about what went well. It is important to focus on the positives and things that you wouldn't change next time around, should that situation happen again. Think about why you thought they went well, maybe even seek some feedback out.


Then do the same for the things that you found difficult. The things that you felt went wrong, or where they didn't go the way you planned. Really think about why you found this challenging and explore whether that's something to do with you personally, or the wider situation that you found yourself in.


If you've got a trusted confidant, talk it through with them, or even think about seeking feedback from others who've been involved in that situation with you. Make notes because it will be important to look back on them as what I want you to do is start to make a plan. This is a plan for what you might do differently, should that situation arise again in the future.


Make your plan for how you would manage things next time based on asking yourself, what went well, what didn't, and why. If you can seek out feedback from other people, please do so, as it will be invaluable. If you can't seek feedback for others, or don't feel comfortable asking, then dig deep and find it from within yourself. Hopefully there'll be something you can learn for next time. And you won't feel so much like you've failed.

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