4 Ways to Recover From Making a Mistake at Work

How to do damage control

When it comes to making mistakes, the most important thing to remember is that you’re human. Seriously, nobody becomes a successful leader, without making a few mistakes at work—and in life—along the way. Your mindset and immediate next steps are crucial for rebuilding trust in the workplace.

(Image: iStock/Bruno Monteny)

 

Here are four steps to recover from a mistake at work:

Own your mistake

 

Not admitting mistakes can damage your reputation, cause you to lose business, or even kill potential career advancement opportunities. So clearly articulate your actions and behavior. When you acknowledge what went wrong you can open your mind to next steps, solutions, or new possibilities. Also, when you accept your role in a situation, people gain a new level of respect for you as well as your work.

Forgive yourself quickly

 

The amount of time you spend beating yourself up over a mistake slows down your career growth. Think of it this way: mastery requires mistakes. Forgive yourself.

Figure out what went wrong

 

Ask yourself: What’s the lesson? Take a moment to look back on the situation and assess your steps. Did you overlook any tools or steps? Did you let yourself get distracted? Did you use the wrong “choice of words” to communicate?

Propose a solution to prevent the mistake at work from happening again and ask your colleagues or leadership team for feedback

 

Ultimately, your colleagues, clients, or superiors want to feel like you care about producing quality work, genuinely fixing the relationship, and preserving the reputation of the company. Think of it this way, when you come to the table with solutions, it places you in a position of power and rebuilds your credibility as a leader.

If you’re unable to identify a solution, (e.g., process, system, or tool) ask someone on your team: What am I missing here? How can I do better at work? Is there anything I can do (or stop doing) to make things better between us? These types of questions open up the possibility for you to have a two-way conversation, move past the problem, and resume a positive working relationship.