Worked for Her: Lessons Learned – How we move past setbacks

Imagine you had a network of women leaders all across the country that you could tap anytime you wanted to find out what’s working for them. With our exclusive feature, Worked for Her, you do. In our most recent installment, Melissa Esquibel, President of MPELLC in Chicago, shares how she uses setbacks to set her department up for future success.

In any department at any company, there are ups and downs.

Sometimes things go right: You score that big discount, or increase your data entry accuracy. Other times
they go wrong: Paperwork gets lost, or management shoots down your proposal for new software.

In my department, we always say, “You can’t change the past.” Whatever happened already happened, and it’s over.

What you can change is the process for next time.

‘In the future …’

Now, we add an extra step to any project or initiative called “Lessons Learned.”

The purpose: to gather everyone who was involved in the situation and do an evaluation.

We start with the good, asking, “What did we do especially well?”

That leads to similar questions like “What did we like best about what we did?” and “What really worked?”

After we’ve highlighted the hard work we put in and aspects that we could use again in the future, we get to the other half of the discussion.

But we never ask, “What did we do wrong?” That makes people go on the defensive.

Instead, we say, “What would we do differently next time?”

That keeps people from pointing fingers. We focus on brainstorming ways to improve.

And that’s what will lead to better success the next time.

(Melissa Esquibel, President, MPELLC, Chicago)