As Miley Cyrus once said, “Everyone makes mistakes / Everyone has these days.” And in fact, we’ve all had “those days”. Probably quite a few of them if we’re being honest. It’s pretty easy to tell the truth about doing something wrong if you’re the only one involved. No one but you will really care that you botched those song lyrics in the car on the way home, or slightly overcooked the burger you made yourself for dinner. But what about when misfires happen at work? How do you manage them so that no one is wrongly accused, or so that a small incident does not degenerate into a huge mess? Here are some tips on what to do when mistakes happen at work.
First, don’t panic. People who are stressed or very nervous tend not to make rational decisions. Stay calm and think about your options. Most of the time, you will be able to find a way to right the wrong yourself without having to alert someone else to your little mistake. But be careful to keep all your mistakes to yourself; you don’t want to appear to be hiding them.
Second, as discussed above, know when to let someone know you’ve done something wrong. If you don’t know how to fix the problem, don’t be afraid to try it for yourself, but watch out for the possibility of making the problem worse by trying to fix it. In the event that you decide you need to tell someone about it, choose a person carefully. If it is a computer problem, contact the IT department; if it is an employee problem, speak to human resources. Just like you wouldn’t use Excel to write a memo, don’t tell someone who can’t help you. Not only will choosing your helper wisely save you time in solving the problem, but it will also keep your error between as few people as possible.
Third, always be honest. If you thought you fixed the problem on your own only to find out later that you didn’t, don’t waste time pretending that you were not the original cause. Honesty is always the best policy, and employers will appreciate you admitting your mistake. It would be pretty awful to let someone else take responsibility for something you did, and he or she will remember you tossing it under the bus for the rest of your time working together. It’s better to be honest and risk a little reprimand than to make long-standing enemies.
Finally, take it easy on yourself. Making mistakes is inevitable in any job. Don’t blame yourself for being human, which is still far from perfect. All of your colleagues have made as many mistakes, if not more, than you. If you are honest and make a courageous effort to correct and not repeat your original mistake, there is nothing more you can do.
Making mistakes is human, and your employers, supervisors and coworkers all know it. The real test of what kind of person and employee you are is how you treat them. Following these tips will help you get through “those days” and stay in good standing with your business.
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