During every new employee’s first week at Lemonly, we give them an onboarding pep talk:

It’s our culture to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Take risks. Embrace your mistakes, and let’s learn from them together.

Here’s a scenario:

An employee tries a new design outside their typical style. We excitedly send it off for feedback, hoping the client, too, will be on board. Instead, they want to stick with the usual approach.

Instead of chastising the designer, we cheerlead their adventure and celebrate their learning. This client didn’t go for it, but the next one might be delighted. Every stumbling block is a learning experience that pushes us forward.

The trap of too much consistency

Too many companies value steady performance over innovation. So, what’s wrong with an employee who delivers steady results?

Employees who feel like their work is too repetitive — always doing the same thing in the same way — might feel they aren’t developing their skills or growing as a professional. They fear their bosses will punish them if they try something new and fail, not reward them.

Like individual employees, a business can’t grow and achieve new goals by doing the same old thing, especially if they’re staying the course while the world around them changes or the rest of the industry innovates.

This stunts the culture of a growth-minded company. Lemonly has found success by fostering a supportive, pro-mistake environment, which is why we encourage Lemonheads to internalize risk-taking and adventure from the get-go.

Risk-taking unlocks innovation and opportunity

Over Lemonly’s history, lots of our major successes and growth as a company have stemmed from what felt like risks at the time — experimenting with a new design style, trying out a new process or tool, pitching a new work type we’ve never done before but know we can do…

Embracing adventure, learning as we go, and pushing ourselves outside the usual to the edge of our skills is how we grow as people and as a company.

Here are a few guiding ideas for how Lemonly encourages our team members to take risks (and how you can, too):

Let employees know you expect them to make mistakes

Innovating is like bungee jumping. Racked with doubt and fear, jumpers forget they’re attached to harnesses to save them from the fall. Encourage your employees to take the leap by assuring them that leadership has their back.

Recently, a few Lemonly employees have led the charge to venture into more 3-D animation projects. It could open doors to new clients (hint: it already has). But if not, that’s OK. We can’t grow if we don’t take risks.

Challenge employees and document their progress

At a recent company retreat, our team wrote down their professional and personal hopes and fears for the next three years. One of the most common professional fears was not growing and learning.

Each year, every employee updates their Personal Growth Plan with fresh goals and hopes and fears for the coming year. Together with their individualized growth track, it helps chart a course for the employee’s continued learning and advancement. Then, at the end of each trimester, we talk about what progress they’ve made and ask what they’ve learned from their mistakes.

Reward employees who show initiative and take risks

Lemonly prizes folks who take the initiative to do things without being asked. Spotting something in the company that’s broken and fixing it. Trying things from a new angle.

Reward the innovators and problem solvers in your organization. They’re pushing you forward and helping make your business stronger.

Promote risk-taking outside of work

Lemonly’s employee benefits include the Adventure Bonus. After five years with the company, Lemonly employees get an extra week of PTO and a voucher to take a trip outside of North America within the next year.

It’s a cool way to reward team members for their loyalty, live out our core value of adventure, and force people to get out of their comfort zone. With new destinations, experiences, and cuisine come personal and professional growth.

Risks. Good for employees. Good for the business. So get out there and adventure!