Managing Mistakes in the Workplace

October 13, 2021

We as humans inevitably will make mistakes, and although even a small accident can have a large impact, beating yourself up over a mistake is not the best way to handle it. Instead, we’ve pulled together a list of best practices to follow if you’ve made a mistake in the workplace to turn it into a learning opportunity. 

Allow Yourself to Feel

Oftentimes when we’ve made a mistake we feel terrible. We are so upset and want to do what we can to make it right, we may even feel embarrassed or worry about termination for the mistake. It’s ok to sit in that feeling for a minute to gather your thoughts, but don’t hesitate too much to act on your mistake. Try to reach out to a manager or supervisor to address the situation and remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world. 

Figure Out What Happened

If someone else had made the same mistake and came to you for a solution, what questions would you want to know? You’d want to figure out what happened, how it happened, what damage has been caused, and what can be done to prevent this in the future. So ask yourself those same questions so that you can begin to come up with a solution to offer to your supervisor. 

Try To Fix It 

It may not always be possible to do so, but try to see if there is a way to rectify the situation, if not try to think of solutions that can prevent something like this from happening again that can be used as a teaching tool for your coworkers. 

Have A Meeting With Your Supervisor

Once you’ve assessed the situation, without letting too much time go by, go and privately speak with your supervisor and be honest as to what has happened. Now will be a good time to offer up those solutions we discussed on how to fix or prevent the mistake. Don’t try to beat around the bush of responsibility, instead be factual and open about what happened. At the end of the day it’s likely your supervisor has been in your shoes and knows what it’s like to make a mistake, maybe even that same mistake, so try not to expect the worst outcome. 

Change Your Strategy

Now that you’ve made the mistake and have put some thought into how it happened and what could be done to prevent it, implement that change in your day-to-day to prevent the same mistake from happening again. 

Overall, mistakes are not the end of the world, and most employers, supervisors, and managers expect mistakes to a certain level of degree. So don’t get too down on yourself, mistakes happen, but what you learn from them and how you change after them is what is important.

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