Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human – it happens. However, it is usually the fallout and aftermath that most people remember. Stick to these guidelines and you can make your mistake at work memorable for the right reasons.
First, tell your boss
The first thing you need to do is own up to your mistake. It’s not easy. It’s not pleasant. But it’s unavoidable. By immediately holding your hands up and acknowledging your mistake, you are not only showing the integrity of your character, but you are also giving your manager a chance to rectify the situation before it escalates. Time is often of the essence in these cases and the sooner you can start to put a plan in place for damage limitation, the higher your chances of workplace survival.
“Sitting in a corner biting your nails, dreading the inevitable meeting with your manager at the end of the day, is not going to help your dilemma.”
Next, be prepared for the worst
Prepare yourself for the worst possible outcome and accept it. Okay, maybe you’ll get fired. But, then again, maybe you won’t. Once you accept the worst possible outcome, you can stop worrying and get on with finding a solution. Sitting in a corner biting your nails, dreading the inevitable meeting with your manager at the end of the day, is not going to help your dilemma one bit. Putting your thinking hat on and providing some viable solutions when your manager asks for your input will be a far more valuable use of your time.
“If this is one of those mistakes capable of keeping the water cooler crowd in a conversation for the week, it might help to publicly acknowledge it.”
Finally, own the situation
Own your mistake. Even better, use it as an example of what not to do. Okay, in some cases your manager might not want you to publicise the error – especially if it was one they were able to gloss over without gaining much attention. However, if this is one of those mistakes capable of keeping the water cooler crowd in a conversation for the week, it might help to publicly acknowledge it. Owning your mishap can be rewarding in its way. Not only does it show you can handle the bad with the good (no-one needs to know about your five-minute meltdown in the bathroom), but it can also be held up as a “what not to do” for other employees. Having the responsibility, and the ingenuity, to turn a mishap into an opportunity to learn will make you, and your manager, more relatable to the wider team.
Article by Niamh Linehan.