Made a mistake at work? Here’s how you recover

Mistakes happen, and regardless of what industry you’re in or what your job description is, it never feels good to mess up at work. Making a mistake at work can be especially upsetting if you are a newer employee or hoping for a promotion, but it’s how you handle the mistake that will truly make or break you. Here are 6 steps to recover from a mistake at work.

  1. Own it

Whatever your mistake is, don’t try to cover it up, and don’t let your supervisor find out from someone other than you. Owning up to your mistake right away will show that you have integrity and are trustworthy.

  1. Explain how it happened

When talking to your supervisor, be straight forward and explain exactly how the mistake happened. Don’t make excuses, and do not blame anyone else. This will show your employer you are willing to take responsibility for your own actions.

  1. Apologize

Don’t let pride get in the way. Acknowledge that what happened what your fault, and show your employer that you are sorry. This will once again show your employer that you are willing to take responsibility and that you recognize the gravity of your mistake.

  1. Think about solutions right away

Depending on the mistake, you may or may not know how to fix it. If fixing the problem is within your capacity, come up with a plan right away. Rather than going to your supervisor and saying “I messed up,” It’s always better to say “I messed up, and here’s how I’m planning to handle it.” If you don’t know how to handle it, that’s okay too, just be upfront about it.

  1. Plan for the future

If you have the opportunity, tell your supervisor what you plan to do in the future to ensure this does not happen again. For example, instead of saying “this happened because I wasn’t paying enough attention,” you can say “this happened because I wasn’t paying close enough attention. In the future, I will be double checking my work instead of only checking it once.”

  1. Cut yourself some slack

Remember, everybody makes mistakes, and whether your mistake is simple, embarassing, or catastrophic, you are not alone. Own your faults, take full responsibility, and then move on. Dwelling on your mistakes doesn’t do you any good, and bouncing back after a mess-up just shows your employer that you are a confident and capable worker.



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