My Bad: How to Recover After Big Office Mistake

Four steps to ensure you don't end up with a pink slip

(Photo: Thinkstock)

You may have stumbled through an important presentation, missed a huge deadline or made a mistake that cost your company. While making professional faux pas can be detrimental to your career, if the situation is handled correctly, you may be able to bounce back from the blunder. Here are four important steps to help you save face after making a major mistake:

No lies, no lies, no lies: The first response to an office mishap is to accept responsibility. Eat a slice of humble pie and acknowledge what you did wrong. You won’t regain the trust of your boss or coworkers any other way. It’s never a good look to be caught in a lie, but if it happens, bite the bullet and apologize—immediately and genuinely.

Determine what went wrong: Now is not the time for a #KanyeShrug. Have an open and honest talk with your boss or coworkers about what happened. If you’re upfront about your situation, this gives you the chance to speak on it before someone else does and you are put on the spot.

Make things right: After you’ve acknowledged your mistake and accepted responsibility, it’s time to get back to work and do whatever you can to fix the problem. You may have to come in early, stay late or work through lunch, but this step is important if you want to regain trust. If there’s no way to fix the issue, you can save face by excelling at another task or making a peace offering in the form of additional work or coming up with a new revenue generator or client.

Nobody’s perfect: Take time to learn from your professional flub. Sometimes we have to learn things the hard way, but it’s important to make sure that you don’t repeat the same or similar mistake. Remember not to dwell on the situation. The most important response is to take action to improve and continue with your best foot forward.

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