Mistakes are inevitable at the workplace, and in the business. And if anything, mistakes are how we learn and get inspired. Nonetheless, committing a booboo at work, from the smallest to the million-dollar worth ones, can be nerve-wracking, worrisome and stressful.
I don't have the perfect answers, and the Internet is full of things to do if you find yourself in a bind, and you think you would want to ask me, these would be what I'd tell you:
- Acknowledge the mistake. There's no worst way to amplify a mistake (and its consequences, whatever it is) than covering its tracks. Missed a number in an Excel file that caused a domino effect? Missed a step in a string of complicated steps that resulted to a massive problem? Resist the urge in blaming a colleague, or the heat, or the technology and acknowledge that you've made the mistake (if it really is your fault.) Admitting things that are not your fault is something else.
- Think and regroup. Assess the situation, how much damage has been done, what can be done today, ASAP, who can know about this, manage the media (it happens!). It helps to have a calm demeanor, which is not easy, but the thought of faith in the Lord, and that things will come to pass is always a source of comfort and calm. Panicking has and most often result to unintended actions. Worry is even a bigger source of stress and discomfort. PLAN the forward action. This is especially required for the next step.
- Address the situation. This may come in the form of a formal meeting, a closed door conversation, a talk with your boss. In my non-leadership posts, I find that it's always beneficial to tell my boss what happened and how I plan to address it. And then carry on.
- Apologize, if needed. I'm a firm believer of asking for forgiveness for offenses BUT it's also a lesson for me, a work in progress to determine well when and when not to apologize.
- Learn from this mistake. It may or may not result to the very best outcomes but at this point, you've probably done all that you can. List down what you could've done better and what lessons are to be learned and applied next time.
Have you committed a work booboo? How did you address it?