How to Handle Mistakes at Work

November 30 2015

We are all human. And humans make mistakes. Even so, mistakes at work can seem monumental. You may be embarrassed. You may have caused a headache for human resources, or even legal problems. A mistake is not as bad as you may think, as long as it is addressed and handled in the appropriate way. Here is how.

Admit the Mistake

Once you are aware of the mistake, you should tell your boss about it as soon as possible. Of course, if the mistake is miniscule and can be corrected quickly before it causes a problem. This does not mean that you should hide your mistakes, but applies only to those small errors with little impact. Hiding other mistakes will make you appear dishonest if uncovered by someone else in the office, whereas being upfront and honest about your mistakes makes you appear professional—just as you are. And integrity is a trait admired by employers.

Offer Solutions

For those larger mistakes, think about what can be done to correct the mistake and have this plan in mind before you confess to your boss. This shows that you have thought about the problem and are taking the initiative to correct your mistake. With this in mind, your possible solutions should include one primary, along with a few alternatives if necessary. Your plan should be clearly thought through and include costs involved in implementation.

Accept Blame

Part of accepting the blame means to resist the temptation to blame anyone or anything else for your mistake. In the event that the mistake was done as part of a collaborative effort with coworkers, you still shouldn’t point fingers.

Yes, you should admit and accept blame. Yes, you should offer ways to fix the problem. What you shouldn’t do, however, is beat yourself up over your mistake. This doesn’t help correct the mistake in a meaningful way and can make you seem unstable.

Ultimately, use your mistakes as an opportunity to grow in your job and in your career. Let those around you know that you are not afraid to handle the good and the bad.

Comments Off on How to Handle Mistakes at Work