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5 Steps To Bounce Back When You Make A Mistake At Work

Making mistakes in the workplace is something everyone does. The real question isn’t whether you are going to make one, it’s how serious will it be and what are you going to do about it?

There may seem like a big difference between forgetting to attach a file to an email and making a bad investment call that costs the company millions. But, the truth is both are perfect examples of making mistakes in the workplace.

They happen, you may feel like it’s time to quit. But, there are ways to recover if you screw up at work. All you have to do is understand the five steps that allow you to bounce back when you make a mistake at work.

5 Steps To Bounce Back When You Make A Mistake At Work
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1. Take A Deep Breath

It may seem like you’ve just made a career-ending mistake but the truth is it’s probably nowhere near as bad as you think. Indulge yourself in a little panic for no more than thirty seconds. Then, take a deep breath;

This will help you put the situation in perspective and realize you’re not in a life or death situation.

This is also a good time to assess the worst-case scenario. You don’t want to dwell on it, but it is worth considering for a moment.


2. Apologize

An apology isn’t always necessary. However, if you have done something to offend a colleague or employee the quicker you apologize the better. It’s an essential part of the process, ensuring you can bounce back when you make a mistake at work.

The apology doesn’t need to be long or detailed. It needs to be honest and direct, specifically aimed at those you have offended or wronged.


3. Correcting The issue

One of the most important ways to recover if you screw up at work is to look at what you’re mistake was, how it impacts the company, and how you can minimize this impact.

5 Steps To Bounce Back When You Make A Mistake At Work
Credit: Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

By adopting this approach you can quickly take remedial action and reduce the harm done. In many cases, this will build your reputation as a quick-think asset to the business.

If you spend a few moments thinking about the issue and can’t come up with a solution then approach your supervisor straight away. The sooner you discuss it the less pressure you’ll feel and the faster the issue can be resolved and put behind you.

Your supervisor will appreciate your honesty.


4. Learn The Lesson

With the problem in hand or already resolved you can afford yourself a little time to consider what went wrong. Think about all the influencing factors, including pressures outside of work. This will help you assess why you made the mistake that you need to bounce back from.

Learning your lesson means owning up to the issue and making sure that it doesn’t happen again. You simply need to learn the lesson:

  • Reflect on your mistake
  • Get feedback from other involved parties
  • See what you could have done differently
  • Make a plan to do it differently next time
  • Remind yourself of this regularly


5. Keep Trying

Everyone makes mistakes but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Simply step back and decide if you are still good at what you do. If so, continue to work where you are. Show the company you have learned from your mistake and that you deserve their trust. This can all be done via your actions.

Just look at former President Bill Clinton, his infidelity can definitely be called a mistake but he still won the UN Citizen of the World Award a few years later.

Making a mistake isn’t the end of your career. You simply need to rectify the issue if possible and move on. Sometimes that does mean changing jobs or roles. But, if that is the case you should embrace this as a new opportunity. You never know where your next role will take you.


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