Making mistakes at work can be horrifying, but it happens. Regardless of your role, there’s a chance you’re going to have a slip-up, but I truly believe how you handle the mistake can make a world of difference in how others, including your boss, perceive your error. It can feel like the end of the world, but here’s the truth- It’s not.
I joined the Caption team several months ago and felt an enormous amount of pressure to be the absolute best. Why? Well, I would feel this way accepting any job because I’m just wired that way, but even more so because Callie is a good friend and my background isn’t in PR. I felt I needed to really prove myself. I’ve learned throughout the many roles I’ve played, that even if I do make a mistake, the world continues to turn as long as I have graciously taken responsibility and righted my wrong.
With that being said, always strive for perfection, but allow yourself a nice, soft place to land when you do make a mistake. Here are a few tips on how to roll with the punches when it comes to making a mistake at work:
1) Prevention. Manage your time, so that you are able to take your time, double check your work, and give your full attention to what you are doing. Mistakes are much less likely to happen when you aren’t in a hurry. While this is sometimes unavoidable, clients push deadlines up, or last-minute emergencies arise, but it can really make a huge difference in your work and your business by allotting enough time to thoroughly complete your task and follow it all the way through.
Aren’t sure what was exactly asked of you from your boss or client? Maybe you’re new and still learning? Asking questions and getting clarification is always the best option and will help give you a clear understanding of the task assigned to you. I asked so many questions when I first started and continue to. Asking for help or asking questions and getting it right the first time, is far less time consuming than having to go back and do your work over again. Knowing your clear path will help prevent mistakes.
2) Own it. Honesty really is the best policy. Typo? Send an email to the wrong person? Just completely drop the ball and forgot to do something? Accept your mistake and apologize, which brings me to the next tip…
3) Learn from it. Make a mental note of what happened and how you can avoid that in the future. Making an error once is not a big deal, but a mistake that is made all the time can get frustrating to your superior and your clients. If it’s a mistake that is continually made, make a tangible note on a post it and stick it to the face of your computer so you always have a friendly reminder.
Last, but the most important in my book:
4) Move on. Don’t bring any more attention to yourself than need be- especially if it’s a big mistake. Acknowledge the error and come up with a plan of action. Profusely apologizing for the millionth time isn’t going to make it any better than apologizing once and getting it handled. Don’t beat yourself up. Allow yourself that grace- you aren’t the first person on planet Earth to screw up and you’re boss will appreciate your honesty and plan for next steps…