A famous historical quote begins, “To err is human.” That’s so true. Human beings make mistakes at home, in their lives, and in their jobs. So, when you make the inevitable mistake at work, how should you handle it? There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle workplace mistakes. Here’s what you need to know about handling your next error at work.
Reacting to a Workplace Mistake
Making an error at work, while just human, can also land you in hot water. Error-free work is expected by most employers. In some jobs, the most egregious mistake can even cost you your job. Making a mistake can make you feel:
- Embarrassed and ashamed in front of your peers. What will people think of you after your mistake?
- Doubtful about your ability to do the job. You may feel uncertain after the mistake and lose your confidence in your work. Even worse, you may wonder if your coworkers feel the same way about you. What if they believe you lack the ability to do the job?
- Worried that you might lose your job. Even if it’s the first time you’ve made a mistake, some employers may not forgive the error.
What should you do when you realize your error? The actions you take after the error occurs can actually put you back on a firmer footing with your coworkers and the employer. Here’s what you should do:
- First, own the mistake. Do whatever you can to rectify it. Be honest with your boss or others that the mistake effects. Give your boss the lowdown on what happened and apologize. But also, ask for help in the form of additional training or support or whatever else you need to do so the mistake doesn’t happen again. Good things to say to your boss include, “I made a mistake but I’m working to correct the issue. So sorry about this.” This shows your employer the level of responsibility you bring to the table.
- Stay calm during this process. Adding emotionalism to the mistake will just make you look bad to others. If you need to step away to get control of your emotions, by all means do it. Then get some perspective. The reality is that you are not the first employee to make a mistake. You may feel embarrassed but do what you have to do to focus instead on correcting the mistake.
- Do all of this as soon as you realize your error. Don’t wait to see if someone will find your mistake. Own the error and your effort to fix it. This level of responsibility shows everyone around you that you are engaged and can be trusted in the future to improve your performance and make things happen.
While these are the best behaviors to exhibit to your employer and coworkers after a mistake happens, sometimes the employer’s response is out of proportion to what occurred. Sometimes, a mistake can come from being overworked and tired. Other times, it indicates that you didn’t receive enough training or support.
A mistake on the job can be a wake-up call. It could signal that, for whatever reason, the job isn’t a fit. When that happens, it’s time to call Stellar Staffing. We have plenty of jobs from top employers and would like to speak with you about what’s next in your career. Give us a call. We can help.
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