Every single person makes mistakes, and as a professional, respectable adult, you have to know how to handle, and learn from your mistakes – especially when you make one at work.
No employer expects their staff to get it right every single time – and if they do then that’s unreasonable.
But there is a big difference between doing something wrong but growing and getting better from it, and trying to cover it all up and not accepting you’re at fault.
So if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve made a boo boo, but you’ve not been sure how to handle yourself afterwards, then I’ve got a few tips for you that will help you to learn and grow from making mistakes at work.
If you’re looking for more career tips, then you’ll also love this post on 5 Habits Of People Who Always Get Promoted At Work
4 Ways To Deal If You Make A Mistake At Work
OWN UP IMMEDIATELY
There is no point in trying to hide it – the truth will come out eventually. No matter the nature of the mistake you’ve made, you’re very unlikely to be able to cover it up.
Dishonesty always comes back to bite you, and even if you do manage to hide it somehow, do you really want the stress of the possibility of your bosses finding out distracting you from moving forward with work?
Or worse – you could find yourself in a situation where your manager finds out something happened, and suspects you’re responsible but doesn’t have the proof?
This will make work extremely awkward, and depending on the severity of the situation, your bosses could end up keeping a close eye on you, waiting to catch you out – which will be a much more uncomfortable situation than if you had just been honest in the first place.
So ask your boss if you can have a moment to speak with them privately, own up to what you’ve done, explain how it happened, and you’ll be much more respected as a result.
OFFER A SOLUTION
The best way to soften the situation when you admit to doing something wrong, is to have a solution in place that you can offer straight away.
Bosses generally don’t want people bringing them more problems to deal with – this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them when something is wrong, but whenever possible, offer a way to fix the situation if need to go to them with a problem.
Even if they decide to handle what’s happened differently to the way you suggested, they will be thankful that you have given thought to fixing things, and it’ll show them that you’re sorry for what’s happened and want to play an active part in putting things right.
SHOW HOW YOU’VE LEARNED FROM IT
There are times that bosses will deliberately put a trainee in a situation where they know that they will fail – not to be mean or to cause embarrassment, but because the biggest lessons are learned by doing things wrong.
It’s common for managers to look for the silver linings in mistakes, as its the best lesson in teaching their team how to do things the right way, in a manner that’s actually going to stick.
Take the time to discuss with your manager what has happened, why the situation may have caused an issue for the business, and how you’ve grown from what’s happened.
If you handle the situation in the right way, then mistakes can actually be your best opportunity to show your manager that you’re a responsible, reliable and creative member of the team, who doesn’t panic when things get tough, and they could actually end up promoting or rewarding you as a result.
MOVE ON AND DON’T LET IT DEFINE YOU
The most important part of correctly handling your mistakes once you’ve confessed, fixed and learned from the situation, is to move on.
You don’t want to let yourself become ‘that person who did …’
Never cry over spilled milk as they used to say in the olden days. There is no set time limit on how long it’s acceptable to keep talking about what happened – that’ll all depend on exactly what the mistake was that you made. But you’ll know in your heart when the time has come that things have – or should have – blown over.
So if you’re feeling like it keeps being mentioned, people are making jokes, or you’ve become defined by what happened, then speak up, stand up for yourself, and if it carries on then it might be time to look for a new job elsewhere.
Remember that if it does come to you having to leave, then it’s not your fault at this point. Everyone deserves a second chance and to be able to move on from past mistakes, and if your employers aren’t giving you that chance then it says a lot more about them than it does you.
To Finish Off…
I really hope this post will help anybody that is currently in a sticky situation at work, or if you make a mistake in future, you’ll be able to remember or even refer back to these tips to help you handle the situation in a professional, responsible manner.
Make sure to let me know if you have any tips for managing mistakes at work or just in life in general, and feel free to share any stories you might have about this subject in the comments below.
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