Everyone makes mistakes in the workplace. They usually occur during those days at work when you probably sum things up by saying, “I’ve had better days.” You might use other words. #$@!^%$#.
How you deal with mistakes is the key to successfully moving forward. If you don’t have an approach for coping with mistakes, you run the risk of impacting your performance, your employer’s impression of you, and quite possibly your job security.
Here’s a simple seven-step guide for coping with mistakes:
1. No waffles, please: If you make a mistake, acknowledge it. Don’t waffle. The quicker you accept it, the quicker you’ll be able to move forward with tips #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7.
2. Remember your good stuff: A silly mistake – especially when it happens during a week where very little is going right – can leave you questioning your career. “Maybe I need to find another line of work,” you might say. Remember: Any career is like an RRSP. There will be some highs and some lows. You don’t measure an RRSP’s success based on one day. Same goes for your career. That’s why they call it a career.
3. Show that you care: If you can tell your boss, “You don’t have to beat me up over it, because I’ve already done that,” then that’s a good start. It shows you care about quality. If you have to wait to get the ‘quality’ speech from someone else, that’s when you should worry.
4. The Remedy: For every mistake, there needs to be a remedy. It’s much better if you come up with, and self-impose the remedy, than having it imposed on you by a boss. For example, if you’re weak on math, perhaps your remedy is to buy a calculator and keep it next to your computer. Or maybe you’re falling behind on followup calls to clients, who are now complaining. That’s when you need to create solutions. Showing initiative to correct your flaws is how workers improve and progress in their careers.
5. Talk, talk, talk: Talk about how your mistake happened. Talk about what you could have done to prevent it. Talk about what you’ll do the next time to ensure it doesn’t happen again. In other words, don’t hide your flubs. Share them. Talk to co-workers. The result will likely be others will share their flubs with you. Together, you’ll learn.
6. You’re not alone: Want to some examples of really bad errors in the workplace? Visit www.regrettheerror.com. Each day, Craig Silverman compiles the worst errors appearing in major newspapers across North America. Visiting this website can be a feelgood exercise. Hopefully, after you read some of these corrections and gaffes, you can at least say, “Gee, I’m glad I didn’t screw up that bad!”
7. Get back to reality: Re-commit yourself to accuracy. And remember what you came up with for tip #4. Plus, a sticky note on your computer can help you stick to it and avoid the same mistake in the future.