Turning Setbacks into Comebacks

May 18, 2018

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.

- B. F. Skinner

Earlier this week, Inc Magazine posted an article lauding Google’s process of learning from failure; calling it brilliant and we can’t help but agree. Here’s how we think you can make learning from failures apply to hospitality in a club setting:

Identify the most important problems

Failures or mistakes provide valuable learning and training opportunities. Mistakes or service failures can identify breakdowns in procedures, misunderstandings, and a lack of resources or training gaps. Once you can find the root cause of the failure or mistake, one can go about 'fixing it forever' so that the same mistake or failure does not happen again and again. It's important clubs maintain a culture of accepting feedback in all forms, even if it is to uncover or discuss mistakes.

 Create a record

Creating a record is crucial; especially when it comes to managing employees. In our Motivate Me training, we discuss how motivating your employees to want to succeed through the use of constructive feedback and focusing on lessons learned helps to pave the way to address important problems and set employees and managers up for creating a successful and productive work environment.

Promote growth not blame

Chef Mary Howley weighs in on how this concept is crucial when it comes to the dining aspect of hospitality: “In the kitchen, we have to communicate expectations, techniques and best practices to staff in order to make the whole system work-it is a group effort-and with many hands come the opportunity for a misstep . Positive and constructive communication is key. Not every mistake can be prevented but a few strategies for acknowledging; owning, correcting, and avoiding repeated mistakes can help keep things on track. Discover and discuss errors with the whole team. If an error has happened once, it is likely it could happen again-bring it to light with everyone in a positive way, free of blame and provide all the necessary corrective steps.”

That’s nice, but how about a “real world” example of learning from your own “post-mortem"

Identify the mistake or failure and ask yourself "Why did this happen"? Keep asking that up to five times to get to the root cause of the mistake.

IE: Our special event was unsuccessful because of our dessert course.
  • Why?

    • Service was slower than expected for the dessert course and some tables didn't receive their dessert for 45 minutes.

  • Why?

    • We did not have enough forks available and we had to wait for the dishwasher. (could be a root cause if the club doesn't have enough forks)

  • Why?

    • We didn't pull enough forks for the event and had to scramble, taking service staff off the floor. They couldn't serve their tables and provide coffee service.

  • Why?

    • We did not make a service plan, where we consider every step of service, because we were too busy.

Q. How can we use this information to 'fix it forever'?

A. Create a standard that any event over XX number of people with more than two courses will have a service plan created at least five days in advance.

Nearly everyone has experienced some type of near mistake and full blown disasters in their time, but by following the path to learning from setbacks laid out by Google; by conducting a post-mortem, in which you treat every perceived failure as an opportunity for growth, discussion and learning by gathering all parties involved to engage in an open, constructive conversation, you will quickly find yourself turning your setbacks into comebacks.