Owning Up to Your Mistakes at Work

Oops. Uh-oh. Oh…you get the point. Something went wrong, and it’s your fault. Now you have to figure out how to respond.   

Owning up to a mistake at work can be a scary proposition. Your job could hang in the balance. You need to fix the problem while still protecting your future with the company. Here are a few things to keep in mind:  

Defining the Situation  

There are a few dynamics to consider when plotting your response to a mistake. Context matters. Your first step should involve defining the situation and understanding the implications. This will help you plan out what to do next.  

Error vs. Misjudgment: You type a shipment order wrong and end up getting ten times the toilet paper you should have received. That’s an error. You approve the purchase of a new piece of equipment that ends up slowing the manufacturing process. That’s a misjudgment. Did you do something on accident, or did you make the wrong choice? That’s the first question to answer to define the situation.  

Big vs. Small: Is the mistake a tiny event that no one will remember by lunchtime? Or is it a major snafu that could endanger the future of the company? Defining the scale of the situation will guide your response as well.  

Internal vs. Client-Related: A mistake that stays within the confines of the company (like, say, losing your temper at a coworker behind closed doors) has different implications than a failure that involves a customer (like, say, blowing up at a client). The internal situations are much easier to resolve quietly.  

Owning Up to the Mistake…And Making It Right  

Once you’ve assessed the situation, it’s time to plan your response. You should remain calm and figure out the best way to find a solution.  

Don’t Try to Cover It Up  

Employers can forgive even large mistakes. However, they won’t forgive a cover-up. Don’t try to pass the blame onto someone else, and don’t pretend that nothing happened. You’ll have to face the situation head-on.   

Figure Out Who Can Fix the Error  

You’ll likely need some help to fix the situation. But who should you ask? That’s a key question to consider. Ascertain the right person to approach with your problem. Consider who is likely to be friendly and cooperative, as well as who has the skill (and authority) to take the steps necessary to correct the mistake.  

Have a Solution in Mind  

Don’t just own up to the mistake. Have a solution in mind. By proposing a possible fix to the scenario, you speed the process of reaching a resolution. You also make it easier to move on afterward.  

Diagnose How the Mistake Happened  

Once you fix the problem, it’s time for a little soul searching. What led to the mistake? How can you avoid it in the future? By answering these questions, you make yourself a better employee and turn a potential setback into a learning experience.  

Put Changes in Place  

You can’t undo your mistake. You can fix the problem and make up for it, but you can’t erase it. Given that fact, don’t focus on the past or on the mistake itself. Instead, look to the future and what you can do to prevent similar problems in the future.   

Try to communicate this commitment to growth as well. Letting your bosses know that you’ve learned from the mistake makes it easier for them to forgive you.   

You aren’t perfect. Building a long-term career is about learning from mistakes and developing your skills over time. As you go through that process, a high-level staffing agency, like LaborMAX, can help you get the most out of your potential.  

Contact LaborMAX Staffing today to find out how they can put you in the perfect industrial job to take advantage of your unique mix of talents.