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Etsy Broadcasts Its Employees’ Mistakes Company-Wide (and That’s a Great Thing)


Making mistakes is never fun, especially when it happens at work. Can you imagine if every time you made a mistake at your job, you were required to admit to your error in full detail to the entire company? One well-known and reputable company is doing just that – and it’s a huge success. Read on to see why and how.


(Photo Credit: Peter Lindberg/Flickr)

Failure isn’t easy to swallow, but failure is inevitable and it’s also a key element in the formula for success. Just ask anyone who is successful and they’ll tell you that mistakes are stepping stones to bigger and better things to come, and it’s the lessons we learn along our journey to the top that really shape who we are and where we end up in life.

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No matter how necessary failure is our lives and our careers, one thing’s for sure: messing up is embarrassing. However, maybe – just maybe – our shame has more to do with how we are taught to perceive making a mistake and the inevitable blame that ensues, rather than the act of committing the error itself. 

Etsy, the online retailer for handmade, crafty goods, wants to change the way “human error” is perceived in the workplace, and it’s starting with its own employees.

“Blameless PostMortem”

In a post on Etsy’s blog, CTO John Allspaw states that, instead of punishing the “bad apples” for making a mistake, the company encourages a “Blameless PostMortem” where employees take ownership of their mishaps and give detailed accounts of what happened, “without fear of punishment or retribution.”

By acknowledging an error in a more investigative and analytical manner, Allspaw says that the company is able to get better understanding of the “mechanism, pathology, and operation of the failure,” so as to prevent it from occurring in the future. Therefore, it’s not a matter of who done it, but rather how do we prevent it from happening again?

You can read some of Etsy’s success stories, here.

Now if we could all start looking at and handling mistakes the way Etsy does, then we’d probably be more apt to take on bigger risks in our lives, one we wouldn’t dare with our current perception. Just imagine how much more audacious you’d be in your career if you were confident that making a mistake or failing at something would help, not hurt, your career. 

You Don’t Need to Work at Etsy to Learn From Their Policy 

Not everyone is lucky enough to work at an employer that doesn’t come after you with a stick for a gaffe, but we all have the choice to change the fundamental aspects of how we view the mistakes and failures in our own lives. Instead of beating yourself up the next time you slip up at work (or in life, for that matter), consider embracing the mistake and seeing it as a learning lesson to help you become better prepared for what the future holds. As the saying goes, “Without darkness, there is not light.” Likewise, without failure, there is no success.

Tell Us What You Think

How has a failure helped you experience success in life? Share your story with our community on Twitter or leave a comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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