How to Handle a Mistake At Work

Making a mistake at work can be stressful and embarrassing. However, everyone makes them at one time or another. It’s how you move forward after a setback that matters. With that in mind, how do you handle a mistake at work? Here are some tips to not only manage through it, but learn and grow from it.

5 Ways to Avoid Handling a Mistake at Work

Be realistic.

If you’re a perfectionist or have a hard time with mistakes, keep in mind that they are normal. Human beings are not perfect and will eventually make mistakes. You’re not alone; however, sometimes it can feel that way when the stakes are high. Be realistic though, and accept that mistakes happen, and it’s how you go about correcting it that matters.

Process your thoughts and feelings.

When you make a mistake, it’s easy to go into panic mode. Take a minute and breathe deep. Relax and remember that mistakes are just a part of life. It’s also normal to feel stressed and scared after you make one. So process your thoughts and feelings. If it’s not urgent, go for a walk or sleep on it before you move ahead, so you can deal with the situation in a logical way.

Face the mistake.

Whether you need to tell your boss, a co-worker, or a customer that you made a mistake, it’s time to own up. Keep in mind that a mistake is usually bigger in the mind of the person who made it. But don’t cover it up, no matter how tempting. Instead, take ownership and tell the person that the mistake impacts.

Apologize if you need to.

Don’t overdo your apology, but do offer one, rather than making an excuse or trying to justify it. Keep it simple and just so you’re sorry about the inconvenience, error, or whatever happened. Then move on to how you are fixing it. Admit the error, apologize, and explain what you’re doing to rectify the situation. It’s that simple.

Think about ways to avoid it in the future.

The last thing you want to do is make another mistake, especially the same one. Think about what led up to this error and ways to avoid it in the future. Did you skip a step in the process to save time? Were you unclear about deliverables? Did you make a promise you couldn’t keep? Whatever the situation, identify where you could have done something differently and avoided the mistake.

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