I once worked at a company where Employee of the Year started his award acceptance speech by telling the story of a colossal mistake he made on the job – one that potentially affected thousands of customers. It seemed a strange way to open his remarks. Still, the longer he spoke, the more it became apparent that the incident had ultimately transformed him into a model employee who improved everyone around him.
If you’ve made a mistake on the job, it doesn’t have to ruin your career. I can’t promise you’ll end up as Employee of the Year, but if you act on the tips below, you can come out of the experience with a better reputation than you had before.
What Should You Do After a Mistake?
Assess the Situation
In the immediate aftermath of a blunder on the job, don’t panic, and don’t immediately throw yourself at the mercy of your boss. Instead, analyze the problem you’ve caused, its effects, and whether you can fix the problem immediately. If you can’t, find someone who can take the steps necessary to solve the problem as soon as possible and be sure to let them know you appreciate their help.
Set Up a Meeting with your Supervisor
Once you’ve done all you can in the way of damage control, now it’s time to schedule a private meeting with your supervisor to brief them on what you did wrong and what steps you’ve taken to rectify the situation. This will allow you to demonstrate your willingness to take responsibility for your error. Close things off by apologizing again for the specific incident – but not your existence. Everyone makes mistakes, and yours doesn’t mean you’re worthless as an employee.
Make Necessary Adjustments
Once the dust has settled and the damage is repaired, do some soul-searching to see how you can adjust your work habits to make repeating the mistake less likely. Is there a way you can better organize your workstation? Do you need to limit your distractions? Coming up with proactive measures can help you avoid future problems and strengthen your value to the company.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Going It Alone
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