3 Reasons Why Companies Shouldn’t Punish Mistakes

In every facet of life, we can all agree that life is riddled with mistakes. Personal or professional mistakes, there’s no one person who hasn’t made one. Punishments should not be handed out as a result of mistakes within your business—and for good reason. Punishing employees for mistakes can lead to changes in work habits and behaviors that can be detrimental to your employee’s creative output. Here are three reasons not punishing mistakes can actually enhance your business:

  1. Fearless Action is Driven By the Lack of Fear

For hiring managers, it’s always the goal to see their employees thrive, gain skills, and be able to master those skills. Unfortunately, not every learning path is smooth. If you want to train your team to act fearlessly, they need to fearless. Having an environment that allows them to speak their mind, try and fail, ask questions, and think outside the box will help them harness this fearless mentality. By giving your team an opportunity to try new ideas without the fear of punishment helps to drive more creative ideas, that after diligence, trial, and error result in highly effective, refined methods.


  1. Mistakes Grow Your Brain

Failure can be defined as not accomplishing the goal. However, a failed attempt at one goal does not mean there is a lack of success elsewhere.  Like Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Employees will fail to achieve success 100 percent of the time, but the failure does not equate to wasted effort. Your employees will learn more from failure than success, not just about the process of what they are doing but about their personal character.

  1. Say Goodbye to Sweeping “It” Under the Rug

What’s worse than a mistake? A mistake that you didn’t know about until it’s too late to fix. When employees are fearful of being punished for mistakes, they are less likely to be upfront about those mistakes, which can cause a minor problem to quickly become major. In many cases, if fear has been ingrained in the employee-supervisor relationship, the employee will do whatever they can to hide the problem or make it so the supervisor never had to know about the issue in the first place. If the problems go unresolved, they often can fester until the problem is so large that there is no way to save the situation.

While it seems counterintuitive to not punish mistakes, this methodology works. It’s important to note that lack of punishment does not mean lack of accountability. When something goes wrong, your employee needs to know that it has affected the business negatively. Together, you and your employee should devise a plan to make sure the problem doesn’t arise again. The way you, as a leader, handle moments like these with your employees are some of the most critical when it comes to employee retention and loyalty. It’s important to be firm with your expectations but not to crush the employee so that they never take a risk again.