WTF is the name of a meeting room at Scudamore's headquarters. It's eye-catching, but doesn't mean what you might think_ instead, it stands for Willing to Fail. Photo by Kati

By Brian Scudamore

Most bosses will tell you that giving feedback to staff is awkward. Even if it’s constructive, the experience can be uncomfortable and finding ways to do it without playing the “blame game” or damaging employees’ confidence is challenging.

At its root, feedback is intended to start a conversation that provides you with a better understanding of your employee’s perspective, how an initiative went sideways, and ways you can help that person effectively achieve goals in a supported environment.

Beginning and ending this dialogue on a positive note is vital to the success of your staff and subsequently, your business.

Twenty-six years and three companies later, I’ve found that giving an employee control of the conversation about their work is the best way to get honest, informative answers that establish the full scope of the situation.

“How do you feel about your job?” is an open-ended question that puts the ball in their court. Actively listening to their response gives me a chance to help find a solution that satisfies us both.

During a recent conversation with writer Michael Simmons, I mentioned that my teams actually look forward to getting feedback, which might sound counter-intuitive: what kind of employee seeks out a potentially unfavorable conversation?

However, I think their acceptance of these kinds of discussions comes from fostering a company culture where failing isn’t frowned upon – rather, it’s celebrated as an essential characteristic of entrepreneurism.

The people I work with understand that a calculated risk has the potential to differentiate our company in a competitive marketplace. That being said, it can also be a “flop”. But a “willing to fail” (WTF) culture enables creative, progressive business ideas that in turn grow a workforce of individuals who don’t fear feedback. Employees are confident that criticism is constructive and that they are valued in their role.

WTF will turn feedback-based conversations like these into valuable lessons for both you and your employees, who will continue to strive for extraordinary results.

So ask yourself, “What does ‘WTF’ mean at your company?” If it’s more commonly yelled as a signal of frustration, change that definition and start being fearless.

It could be the factor that takes your business from average to exceptional.

Brian Scudamore is the serial entrepreneur at the helm of O2E Brands, the banner company for home-service companies 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, and You Move Me.  Connect with Brian on Twitter @BrianScudamore.

Photo by Kati