Jill Evans speaking at the 2019 All Employee Conference

Jill Evans, Student Development Managing Director and the final keynote speaker at the All Employee Conference, not only encouraged BYU-Idaho employees to fail, but to fail quicker.

Evans’ address was based off an armchair discussion university employees had with Elder David A. Bednar in January 2016. During this discussion, Elder Bednar taught the importance of developing a pattern for learning that includes failing.

Elder Bednar mentioned that the more we fail, the more we learn. Thus, the quicker we fail, the sooner we get to where God wants us to be.

“I don’t think in the workplace we understand failure,” said Evans.

She then quoted author and Valencia College President Sandy Shugart.

He said, “Failure is unavoidable if the work has any real value or takes any risks at all. In most of our organizations, failure somehow seems abhorrent. What a difference it would make if we went into our projects understanding that failure is a part of the lifecycle of our work.”

Evans continued to explain that there are two types of failure in the workplace: failure that requires forgiveness and failure that requires feedback.

Quoting Shugart once more, Evans said, “Forgiveness is required for a different kind of failure—the kind that undermines relationships, trust, and mutuality…. where the practice of forgiveness can help us the most at work is in those situations where someone has failed on the basis of a real error in judgement. In place of blame, we should put discernment, forgiveness, and restoration.” 

Forgiving one another in the workplace, Evans taught, is one of the most notable ways employees can mentor one another. Another way employees can help one another is through what Evans calls “constructive feedback” in the place of “constructive criticism.”

This feedback is an opportunity for correction and development; it is an opportunity to learn from one another.

Evans emphasized the importance of seeking feedback early by relating a story about a young couple. After the couple’s car broke down, they shared a car or walked where they needed to go for a year before they took it in to have it diagnosed. The solution was a simple and affordable, $10 spark plugs. The moral of the story being that this couple could have solved their problem months before if they had only sought feedback sooner.

Toward the end of her address, Evans shared an image of one of her favorite paintings—a depiction of Peter and John running to Christ’s empty tomb. Evans said, “There are sublime moments that happen in our interactions with one another, and as we’re running towards the Savior, let’s do it together.”

Evans concluded by restating Elder Bednar’s charge given at the armchair discussion to bless millions at this university. She expressed her confidence in BYU-Idaho’s ability to fulfill this mission as employees access the grace of God to love and serve one another.