how to encourage employees to take risks

How to encourage employees to take risks: some tips for HR professionals

HR managers should keep in mind the effects of a performance-driven culture which demands a performance philosophy when it comes to encouraging their employees to take smart risks.

Are you an HR professional searching new ways of encouraging your employees to take risks at their workplace and seizing the opportunity of considering professional risks as a moment of growth? It is never easy embracing risky situations that might lead to failure or disappointment, but it is important to wisely support your employees when the time is right.

During challenging projects employees must take risks in order to raise the bar and experiment innovative and unknown methods. But what is the best way to encourage them to take risks?

Develop a performance philosophy

A performance-driven culture demands a performance philosophy. Make a commitment to align individual goals to the company’s overall strategy and have more frequent performance-related conversations that focus on career development. Share this philosophy plainly and clearly with everyone.

No matter where your company is on the growth curve, creating a performance-driven culture that provides purpose and encourages communication will help you retain and motivate your best employees — and that will keep your business ahead of the competition.

Make the performance discussion valuable for employees

Critical to this is giving HR, managers and employees the tools to allow everyone to see the business’s key objectives, connect these with our own objectives and track our progress toward achieving them. This transparency gives everyone a stake in the process and tangible evidence to prove that what they are working on is what really matters.

Communicate more with your employees

Communication remains one of the most important and powerful tools that every manager or HR has. You shouldn’t expect perfection from the start; people need practice giving and receiving feedback with regularity to become effective at it. Most managers either want or need additional help when it comes to coaching employees and teams toward improved performance. That said, short, even awkward conversations are better than not purposely touching base on performance at all. With each month, the discussions become smoother and more valuable for both the employee, the manager and, ultimately, the business.

In order to get employees to take risks you need to create a culture that encourages risk. Here are some ways your organization can build a risk-taking culture.

  • Develop a “try it out” atmosphere. Employees should feel that they have been given the “green light” to explore new possibilities and challenge themselves and others to reach new heights.
  • Discuss opposing viewpoints. Employees generally tend to “follow the leader,” but if your organization wants employees to truly take risks, you’re going to need to embrace them having opposing viewpoints – perhaps different than those in charge. Creating a culture of debate and discussion, and most importantly the ability for employees to freely share their opinions in a constructive manner, leads to more creativity, innovation, and risk-taking.
  • Be accepting of failure. There’s a difference between a consistently poor performer, and a failure made in pursuit of a better way of doing things, a new efficiency, a creative endeavour, or an idea to enhance the organization. Not accepting these types of failures and adopting a “sink or swim culture” causes employees to be dissuaded from taking risks. Use failures as opportunities for learning, feedback, and stepping stones to successful ideas. Send clear messages that constructive failures are acceptable.
  • Educate on risk taking.Educating employees on the benefits of risk-taking, how to take risks, what kinds of risks to take, when to take risks, and what physical or psychological barriers they may need to overcome can be beneficial. In addition, having employees observe others taking risks and using them as models for adopting new behaviours can be effective as well.
  • Reward risk-taking behaviour.The behaviours you reward and reinforce tend to be the behaviours you get. If you’re not rewarding employees for taking risks (or even worse – punishing them), you’re probably not going to get employees to take risks. Ensure that your managers are praising employees when they take risks, setting up rewards programs that recognize risk-taking behaviour, or even incorporating the behaviour into a performance review. In addition, make sure that managers and supervisors are rewarded and recognized for encouraging risk-taking and taking risks themselves.


Looking for more info for your company? Visit our corporate website.