Attitude to Risk

A post on a LinkedIn discussion reminded me of some comments that I circulated in a company that I worked for several years ago. The Division Head had sent out a newsletter in which he tried to persuade people that they should be willing to take risks in trying to develop new business. He gave a couple of examples where teams had taken a risk and generated significant returns for the company.

This seemed a sensible approach to take, but my response was why only highlight the risks that paid off? If you are really open to people taking a chance, then you should also praise the risks that didn't work out. If we only ever praise successful risk taking then the message is that the company wants successful risk takers. If, at the same time there is a perception that failure will be punished, either directly by sacking, or indirectly through reduced promotion prospects, then the mixed messages are likely to cause cynicism rather than motivation.

What are your thoughts?


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