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Fear of Failure Is Stifling Workplaces

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By Diane Stafford

To a lesser extent, the survey found that people were risk- and responsibility-averse because they felt the problems were ingrained in the organization, that there were no incentives to try, and that senior management was indifferent.

“This may be a trend stemming from the sluggish economy or the weakened job market, but management also plays a significant role in supporting the ability to take risks,” said Sandi Edwards, a senior vice president at AMA Enterprise.

Someone needs to be accountable for outcomes, Edwards acknowledged, but it behooves organizations and managers to tolerate disappointing results. Intolerance causes workers to crawl into their holes, to not try new things, to duck responsibility.

The same survey asked how to encourage responsibility (and thus innovation). The answers were what we heard 10 years ago: Encourage it. Measure it. Reward it. Make it a corporate value. Ideas bloom with — remember the buzzword — empowerment.

©2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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