When You Mess Up at Work


Everyone makes mistakes, but making a mistake at work can be stressful.  You’re embarrassed, you’re afraid of what your boss is going to say, and a part of you may even be concerned that this will cost you your job.  If you’ve made a bit of an ‘oops’ and you’re not sure how to proceed, these tips may help:

Admit it.  The worst thing you can do is try to cover up your mistake.  Most managers will overlook mistakes (even big ones) but few will overlook lying.  Get it out in the open so that the situation can be addressed if necessary.

Fix it.  Since you made the mistake, you have an opportunity to show the employer how responsible you are by taking steps to fix it.  Determine what went wrong and what you need to do to make it right.  If you are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty, it will make a positive impression on your manager.

Don’t blame.  When mistakes are made, there is usually plenty of blame to go around.  Try to resist that temptation.  Blaming doesn’t solve any problems; it damages relationships and makes you look unprofessional.  Don’t go there!

Learn from it.  Do you remember when you got in trouble as a child and your parents would always ask, ‘what did you learn from this?’  While it may have been a bit annoying, your parents had a point.  If we are willing to accept the lesson, our mistakes can actually be excellent teachers.  This is why employers like to hire more experienced candidates.  People who try to learn from their mistakes are far less likely to repeat them.

Making a mistake at work feels horrible, but the truth is that the mistake itself is less important than what you do afterwards.  If you behave professionally, fix your mistake, and use it as a learning opportunity, it will leave your manager with a positive impression of you.


(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


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