NOBODY'S PERFECT, AND THE BEST WORKERS KNOW IT. THE GOOD NEWS IS: MAKING AMENDS FOR A MISTAKE AT WORK IS EASIER THAN IT SEEMS (IF YOU'RE WILLING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY).
The next time you make a mistake at work, what should you do? The formula behind this is actually much more simple than it seems:
Recognize, apologize, and solve.
Whether the mistake you’ve made is big or small—and we’ve all been there—the best thing to do is to own it, acknowledge it to your boss, and make amends. Follow this formula to ensure the best possible resolution for your mistakes made.
RECOGNIZE YOUR ERROR
Owning it means you’re able to see your shortcomings in the situation. Even if others are at fault in some way (does the line of thinking, “but it wouldn’t have even happened if….” sound familiar?) taking ownership of the error demonstrates several things:
- first of all, you actually noticed the mistake (you wouldn’t want your manager to see it instead of you, would you?).
- second, you care enough to take responsibility.
- third, you acknowledge that you’re not perfect. No one is, and it’s especially hard to strive for constant perfection in the workplace where standards—not to mention competition—are incredibly high. Honesty can go a long way.
ADMIT IT TO YOUR BOSS
Bringing up the mistake to your boss is the hardest part of the process. It’s not fun to have to say, “I messed up.” But it happens, and admitting it means the hardest part is over and you’re that much closer to the issue blowing over. We all know what it’s like to realize you may have done something wrong and feel that dark cloud hovering over you. As soon as you realize what happened, take action. The longer you wait, the worse it may get, for you and for your manager and team.
Bringing up the mistake to your boss is the hardest part of the process.
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how few people are actually willing to say the words “I’m sorry.” Always say you’re sorry and leave it at that. Don’t bother making excuses or explaining how other coworkers might be implicated in the mistake—that never makes you look good. Two simple words are all you need.
HAVE A SOLUTION
Chances are your mistake's probably no big deal, and if it is, the best thing you can do is work hard to fix it. When you go to your boss, have a solution in mind. Saying “Here’s what happened, but I think if we do this…” will demonstrate that you’ve taken responsibility and can handle taking the lead on overcoming the error. Plus, doing this takes some of the heat off your boss—a perk he or she is likely to appreciate.
* * *
How do you deal with making a mistake in the workplace?