7 Ways to Choose Your Failures Carefully

The hotel staff didn’t complain but they were visibly upset. What happened next is a lesson in choosing your failures.

A lousy customer:

A guest at a nearby table insulted the staff. Even though we were outside, this obnoxious patron also told a nearby table to keep their children quiet. My wife and I quietly ate breakfast two tables away.

Soon the restaurant manager went to Ms. Jerk-hole and asked her to go inside. It was gratifying to see management deal quickly and discretely with a rude patron.

Lousy customers drain resources and distract from important opportunities.

Succeed with the people you serve best. Fail with the rest.

Fail with:

  1. Anyone who distracts you from your mission.
  2. Destructive customers who make good customers unhappy.
  3. Employees who refuse to grow.

7 ways to choose failure carefully:

#1. Raise the rate for lousy customers until they either go away or it feels good to serve them.

#2. Fail with one person in order to succeed with others.

Give yourself permission to “release” people who don’t fit. If EVERYONE fits in your organization, you don’t stand for anything.

#3. Don’t allow poor performers or lousy customers to distract you from high-growth employees and satisfied customers.

#4. Spend more time with new customers and satisfied clients than perpetually unhappy customers.

#5. Fail with squeaky-wheel employees when they distract you from productive employees.

  • Invest in motivated employees or you’ll end up losing them.
  • Don’t honor lousy employees with your best energy and attention.
  • Invest in people who are facing new challenges.
  • Support motivated novices who dedicate themselves to improvement.

The best people find new employment when you neglect their development.

#6. Release anyone who doesn’t improve in six months. You’re the problem if you don’t reassign people, redesign jobs, or remove dead weight.

#7. Err on the side of grace. Give opportunity to rise.

What does successful failure look like to you?

Bonus material:

Make Learning Stick and Get the Most Out of Leadership Development

How to Manage the Bottom 15%