Don’t Panic! Here’s What You Should Do If You Make a Mistake at Work

Everyone makes mistakes, even at work; that’s just a simple fact. When it’s a minor mishap, you may be able to handle everything without anyone being the wiser. However, some missteps are far more serious, potentially leading to legal troubles for your company, safety issues for you or others, significant financial losses, or near-irreparable damage to a client relationship.

When quickly correcting the mistake and moving on isn’t an option, you need to make sure you use the right strategy. That could help reduce any damage to your company and career, leading to the best possible outcome based on the situation.

If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are the steps you need to follow.

Take Ownership of the Mistake

First and foremost, you need to take ownership of the mistake. Along with acknowledging to yourself that you’re responsible, be honest with your manager about what’s occurred. Trying to cover up the misstep will only make things, as your error will inevitably be discovered if it’s significant enough. Should that happen, you may be accused of lacking professionalism or accountability and put your company in a riskier position.

Even if you’re worried that your misstep will lead to a termination, it’s better to step up. That allows you to garner support and gather guidance immediately, which can help prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Plus, it shows that you hold yourself accountable, which can help reduce damage to your reputation.

Usually, you’ll want to begin by offering a quick apology before outlining what occurred. Make sure you don’t downplay your part in the mistake or focus on blaming others. Instead, be honest about your role in the equation while avoiding pointing fingers at others.

If it’s a team mistake, not an individual one, speak with the involved parties before talking to your manager. Encourage them to all broach the topic together, allowing everyone who is responsible for the misstep to take ownership of the situation.

If any of them try to shift blame during the conversation with the manager, don’t get sucked into it. Instead, remain focused on your role, answer any questions the hiring manager asks without badmouthing others, and remain solution-oriented, as that can work in your favor.

Present a Plan to Correct the Mistake

When you take ownership of the mistake and inform your manager about the misstep, it’s best if you can also outline a plan that could correct the issue as much as possible. That lets them know that you are already focused on corrective action, which could put their mind at ease. Plus, it’s a chance to have a discussion before you begin, allowing them to offer insights that could lead to better outcomes.

If you don’t have a full-blown plan, let your manager know the steps you’re taking to get a plan in place. Discuss the information you have to gather, conversations that need to occur, or anything else that must happen to lay the groundwork for what comes next. Then, when you have a plan, follow up with your manager and present it.

Learn from the Experience

A mistake at work is challenging but also a learning opportunity. Consider what occurred and why it happened, working to identify personal missteps that you could avoid should a similar situation arise in the future. That reduces the odds that you’ll make the same mistake twice, allowing you to improve professionally and boost your long-term performance.

If you’d like to find out more, the staff at The Squires Group wants to hear from you. Contact us today.


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