As humans we make mistakes. It’s an inevitable fact of life. But it can be especially troubling when we make a mistake at work because it often impacts other people or a company as a whole. So what’s the right course of action when you make a mistake at work? Here’s how to handle it and learn from the situation.
An article from The Muse entitled, “The ‘Just Right’ Reaction When You Mess Up at Work” offers some great advice in terms of initially handling a mistake. “Upon realizing your error, don’t react right away. Instead, take a deep breath and analyze possible solutions.”
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and panic when you first realize you made a mistake. But reacting immediately is unlikely to yield favorable results because you’re unlikely to be thinking rationally or at full capacity. Your best bet is to “decompress” and digest the scope of the situation. Doing so should restore your ability to think rationally so you can come up with an effective game plan.
Once the dust has settled, admit the mistake to your boss. This isn’t always easy, but is essential for eventually rectifying things. Doing so accomplishes three very important things:
- It shows you’re responsible and have character.
- It’s important for strengthening your relationships with your boss and co-workers.
- It better enables you to move forward.
Also, try to avoid “playing the blame game” where you point the finger at others. Even if there were others who contributed to the mistake, leave it up to them to take responsibility as well. Trying to bring others into the fold is only going to create additional discord.
Fix It on Your Own If Possible
In some cases, you may be able to find a solution on your own. This is ideal because your boss and co-workers won’t mind the error nearly as much if it doesn’t add any stress or inconvenience to their lives. In turn, you can smooth things over much more quickly and get back on track.
Learn From It
Finally, be sure you’re legitimately taking something positive away from a mistake. This is easier said than done but will help you become a better employee and often a better person. Implement the lesson and let it be a catalyst for personal progress.
As Oscar Wilde so eloquently said, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Taking the right approach to making a mistake at work should help you devise an effective solution and move past the situation. This can ultimately make you a smarter, more efficient employee and develop your character at the same time.
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