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Make a Mistake at Work? 6 Steps to Fix It

So long as you’re a human being, you inevitably make mistakes in your personal life. These can range from harmless “faux pas” on the one hand to significant errors in judgement on the other.

But sometimes, when you make a mistake at work , it can feel like a much bigger deal.

Workplace mistakes are a different kind of stressful. Small ones can be embarrassing, but in the end, not a huge deal. But occasionally, large mistakes can get you into real trouble — and even impact your career trajectory. In these situations, our coworkers, customers, superiors, and even the organization itself can feel their impact. It’s no surprise that work-related blunders can cause significant anxiety!

If you’re reading this article because you’re already in this boat, take a deep breath and remember, you’re not alone. We’ve all made mistakes at work one point or another. Here is some advice about addressing them in the healthiest, most effective way possible.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that this article deals with mistakes that obviously fall on your shoulders. Not murky, teamwide mistakes with multiple players involved. With that in mind…

Step 1: Acknowledge and Own It

Is it pretty darn obvious you made a mistake? Don't dig yourself into a deeper hole. Think about the long game here. Your colleagues and supervisors will respect you much more if they see you’ve owned up to your error, and you’re now focused on solutions.

Start by acknowledging what happened. Take a deep breath, hold it, and try to dissipate those feelings of embarrassment and distress as you breath out. The natural reaction might be to defend yourself, but the sooner you own up to it, the faster you’ll earn back trust.

Step 2: Fix It and Apologize

Not all mistakes have quick fixes, but saying “I apologize” is a good first step. In some cases, simply offering a brief apology and a simple solution will suffice. Depending on the situation and depth of the mistake, you may need to make a more complex plan.

Judge Pro Tip: A word to the wise: It’s possible to acknowledge the folly of your ways without beating yourself up. Remember, mistakes happen at work all the time. Nine times out of ten, this is a time to be centered, realistic, and solution-focused. Deliver your apology and explanation, but don’t tar and feather yourself in the process!

If feelings and relationships were hurt in the process, a heart to heart may be appropriate. In cases like these, you may wish to take a more human centric approach.

Step 3: Meet With Your Boss Privately

Sometimes, having a one-on-one with your supervisor can be both an opportunity to apologize and an opportunity to seek feedback about how to avoid repeating the mistake. Often, mature and honest conversations can help you learn and bond professionally, and better support one another.

Step 4: Accept the Consequences

Even if you offered a sincere apology and proposed a plan to fix your mistake, you may still face a reprimand. If this is the case, accept the consequences and follow upper management or HR’s directions without complaint.

Step 5: Learn From It

What will you do differently next time? Identifying patterns and learning about your own tendencies is a good start. What happened on the day you made the mistake? Run through your schedule and try to pick out any patterns that may have led to it. Were you rushing through emails? Procrastinating? Were you way overscheduled? If you can figure out the antecedent that led to your misstep, it will be easier to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Take actionable steps to change your bad habits, showing those around you that you’re being proactive, and that you won’t make the same mistake again.

Step 6: Earn Trust Back

Depending on the size of the work mistake , it might take time to earn back trust. People who feel wronged heal at different rates, even in professional settings. Your focus should be showing growth through your actions. Move past your mistakes and work on delivering excellent results moving forward.

Conclusion: Make a Mistake at Work? 6 Steps to Fix It

You will make mistakes at work ; it’s inevitable. What you do in the aftermath of those mistakes will determine the kind of professional you are. No matter the specific actions you choose, bouncing back in the right way will show your team what kind of a coworker you are.

Topics : Articles, Employee Management, Office Culture, Workplace Relationships

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