Everybody messes up sometimes, that’s just a fact of life. We can make mistakes at home, in our relationships, and at work. But some mistakes carry heavier consequences, and can go so far as to affect even our livelihood. And it’s those mistakes that are also the hardest to admit, as it means we’ve blundered pretty darn hard.
These mistakes hit us the hardest at work. At least if you make a mistake at home or in a relationship, the effects are limited to you and maybe a few more people. Mistakes at work, however, can affect all of your co-workers, which means 6+ people will know you messed up.
Even worse, a work mistake can cause your boss and co-workers to:
- Work longer hours
- Make less money
- Start to resent you
Imagine, 6+ people who work 40 hours a week with you, and they’re all resenting you for a mistake you made; doesn’t sound fun, does it? And that’s not even the worst possible outcome; you could be suspended or even fired! So a mistake at work could cost you your livelihood, which makes it super important that you properly address your work mistakes as soon as possible.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to amend a work mistake.
Admit To Failure And Make No Excuses
First things first, admit to yourself that you messed up. You might be tempted to block it out and ignore it till somebody finds out. Don’t do this. It’s much worse for somebody else to find out later that you messed up, so suck it up and accept your mistake.
And don't assume that valid excuses will make things much better. Even with valid excuses (broken equipment, late deliveries, etc.), you still have a problem on your hands, and this is what your boss and co-workers will actually care about. So really, the only thing that matters is this - how are you going to fix the problem?
Take A Breath And Fix It
Once you admit to your failure, remain calm and analyze for the quickest and easiest solution to your problem. If you’re lucky, then the mistake you made can be fixed without anybody ever finding out. But since that’s probably not the case, you need to be willing to go the distance to fix the problem.
You may need to stay at work late. You may need to make 100 phone calls. You may need to travel 100 miles. It’s really going to depend on the type of mistake you made and the job you have, but you better be ready to do what it takes to fix the problem. Remember, being a smart worker means that sometimes you’re going to need to work extra hard, and this is one of those situations. This means that the harder work you experience won't last forever. You just need to do it until you're "in the clear."
And you better not complain about it either. You need people to see that you’re a professional who can fix mistakes, and not some worker who messes up and then complains all day about it to others. So buck up and get to work.
Accept The Consequences
You’ve got to face it; people will be upset with you after a big mistake. Your boss and your co-workers may suffer because of a mistake you’ve made, but don’t expect their negative feelings to last forever, especially if you fixed the mistake quickly and without complaint.
But still, expect people to be upset with you for a while. Co-workers may talk about you and may even be rude to you for awhile. But that’s nothing compared to the possibility of suspension or even being fired. All you can do is make absolutely no mistakes for the next couple of weeks, work extra hard, and not give anybody any more reasons to remain upset with you.
Spin It Into A Positive
The most important thing to remember is that after you make a mistake you address it quickly and without complaint. It should made clear to your boss that you’re taking the mistake very seriously, and that you know:
1. Why the mistake occurred
2. How to fix the mistake
...and that it will never happen again. If you can show the boss that you’re a problem solver (even if you were the source of this particular problem), then you can expect things to go a little bit better for yourself in the long run.
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