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What to do if you make a mistake at work


Jenni Woods

No matter what kind of industry you might work in, it is almost certain that you will have made a mistake at work at some point in your career. With this in mind, you may have been thinking about how you could deal with future mistakes, as there are very few things that cannot be put right if they are handled correctly. Therefore, we have put together some tips about what you can actually do to cope with mistakes when they occur, to avoid negative outcomes where possible.

Admit that you have made a mistake

If you do not admit to yourself that you have made a mistake, then you will never be able to deal with it. You may feel a certain level of guilt about what has happened, but that won’t make things better either. Instead, you should accept in your own mind that you have made a mistake, and talk to somebody about it, or take a break and go for a walk to clear your mind. You should never dwell on a mistake, as this could bring your standard of work down in the future, making further mistakes likely.

Face the situation head on

Mistakes will only be made worse if they are ignored, which is why you should face things as soon as you can. It’s almost certain that the worst case scenario you are imagining won’t happen at all, and as soon as you admit what has gone wrong, the situation can begin to be sorted. Everybody makes mistakes, even the managers who you need to tell about it, so there is no need to worry about telling somebody.

Think about why the mistake took place

Sometimes, mistakes are made and there is nothing that could be done about it. However, other times it may be because you were tired, because you weren’t concentrating properly, because you had too much work, or because you weren’t really sure of what you were supposed to be doing. Where one of the latter is the case, you can come up with a solution to stop it from happening in the future, which will help you to feel much better about the situation.

Put a future plan in place

Once you have apologised and everything has been resolved, it is time to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. This is related to understanding why the mistake happened, and if you have figured out the reason, you can avoid a repeat. So, perhaps rethink your coping plan when it comes to work load, consider further training, or get rid of distractions to ensure that your concentration is solid.

There is no doubt that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it is how you handle them that makes the big difference. By facing them head on and considering a plan for the future, you should find that your mistake isn’t as bad as you might have originally thought.