SH!T Happens…How to Recover From a Mistake at Work

how to recover from a mistake at work

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” Alexander Pope

No one is perfect. Most people make mistakes, forget about something or do something incorrectly on a daily basis. More often than not, a small mistake at work can be easily fixed, without drawing attention to the error. But, what happens when the mistake is a big deal or cannot be fixed?

A few weeks ago, I approved an email that went out to a thousand of people with a typo in it. I felt terrible as soon as the error was discovered and did as much damage control as I could. In all reality, once an email is sent, there is not much that can be done to correct it. It was not the type of error that warranted a resent, revised email with some type of “oops, we made an error” theme. The owner of the company was livid, and I received a barrage of emails from her pointing out unacceptable it was. After multiple apologies, I started wondering what else I could possible do to make it right- after all, you cannot unsend an email.

If you make a mistake at work that cannot be easily fixed, you can take control of the situation to make things right. I came up with five things you can after making a mistake a work.

  • Review the Error– It is important to review the mistake and determine (as much as possible) how the error occurred.
  • Own It– The sooner you own up to the mistake, the sooner you can correct it and move on. For less serious mistakes, you may be able to use humor to own the mistake.
  • Do Not Blame– There is nothing worse than being thrown under the bus by a co-worker or superior. Even if you were not the only person involved, be the bigger person and take credit for the error (unless the others involved are all going to own up).
  • Apologize– Whether you ate the wrong sandwich at lunch or missed an important meeting, it is important to show you are sorry about your mistake.
  • P&P’s– Make sure this mistake won’t happen again by creating a policy and procedure. Whether you create a formal policy and procedure for your department, or more of a “note to self”, ensure you find a way to avoid making the same mistake again.

With the fast paced lives we lead and the constant barrage of distractions, it can be easy to make a mistake at work. Remember to slow down, take advantage of tools that are available, and avoid multitasking as much as possible. Lastly, if you someone you work with makes a mistake, don’t forget to help them correct it and move on.

Have you made a mistake a work? Please share your tips for correcting mistakes at work below!

how to recover from mistake at work


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