HR strategies must include celebrating employee failures 

How can HR professionals maintain an open, creative and supportive environment for employees in organisations - whether small, medium or large-sized?

Carel Nolte, the chief marketing officer at Purple Group, believes that the first thing would be to embrace failures by employees in organisations. 
Instead of sanctioning failures, they can be treated as a strategic opportunity to learn. After all, failures are arguably an outcome of any risk-taking. 

“We need to allow people to fail. People are too scared to fail because everything needs to be perfect. HR leaders need to be comfortable with employees failing and celebrating failures,” said Carel at the HR Indaba on 4 October  2018. “Business and organisations should be fun. We need to create a workplace culture of laughing and employees not always taking themselves too seriously,” he said.
Many HR professionals find themselves leading small-and medium-sized companies alongside great entrepreneurs and leaders. They often develop a strong entrepreneurial focus themselves but also help organisations grow and change with better governance, structure and HR insights.  

But the responsibility of creating a supportive environment for employees goes beyond HR professionals. It’s also about the leadership style of leaders. “Even though a leader might have an open-door policy, a lot of people will find it difficult to walk through the door. Leaders must be surrounded by people who frustrate and challenge them. As a leader, you must surround yourself with diverse voices,” said Carel. 

Nicola Tager, the head of careers at Investec, agreed with Carel, saying leadership plays a big role in an organisation’s culture. “Leaders must focus on an organisation driven by culture and not policy. It will kill the autonomy of employees if the organisation driven exclusively by policy,” said Nicola. 

HR practices must support and drive an organisation’s culture. For Nicola, it’s about prioritising the voices and opinions of employees. “Beyond sensible practices like open-door policies, can employees challenge leaders on strategy and basic implementation of the strategy? Can they go in with an opinion and justify it? Is there open debate and open dialogue? It’s about the ability of a leader to listen and the diversity of thought in an organisation.”

South Africa is a racially and culturally diverse country. And the composition of leadership in organisations must reflect the diverse nature of the country. “Even though we are a diverse nation, we tend to surround ourselves with people who look and think like us. We need to make sure we go to places that are diverse and places that challenge the way we think. We are not doing well in that front,” said Carel.