Whether you’ve been in the workforce for one month or twenty years, you have probably made a few mistakes. That moment when you are scrolling through your emails and you see a subject line from someone on your team that says “FIX THIS NOW.” Your stomach drops, you start to feel a little nervous, and your brain gets jumbled. When you start to feel this way… STOP. Mistakes happen – it’s how you handle the aftereffects of your mistakes that matter. Check out the four steps below to help you not only recover from a problem, but also turn it into a positive.
- Do your research. The first step to solving a problem is naming it. You know there’s an issue… but where did it originate? Check through old emails, call logs, whatever it takes. See what happened and why. How far did it go? Did it affect your team? Make sure that you get all the facts, so that you are not caught off guard a second time.
- After you have all of the details, it’s time to get a game plan. Start thinking of some solutions to your problem. Brainstorming a few backup plans is probably a good idea. Think carefully about how you will word any emails and other communications to best frame the problem and present your solution. Double check to make sure you were correctly informed about all the details of the problem, that your solutions are viable, and that you’ve otherwise covered all the bases.
- Next, you just have to own up to it. Admitting you forgot to send an email, call that contact back, or research the numbers before you delivered the project may not be the most pleasant conversation you have ever had with your boss… but there is nothing worse you can do for yourself than lie or ignore the problem. Besides, if you take ownership of the issue, it lets your colleagues know you are on top of it, you are honest, and you are a problem solver.
- Finally, make sure you understand everyone who has been implicated because of the mistake. It’s best to head off all foreseeable problems that may occur as a result of the mistake, than to sweep them under the rug. If the problem continues to pop up over time, people will become annoyed and less forgiving. Talk with your team and see if they’ve been affected in any way. If you know the mistake could cause problems for another department, reach out to them. Let them know what is going on and how you are fixing it. Communication is key in a situation like this. People will not only appreciate you letting them know what’s going on, they will respect you for it.
These are four steps that will help you after you’ve made a goof-up in the office. However, everyone’s story is different. Do you have any stories to tell about a mistake you’ve made in the workplace, and how you recovered from it? Tell us about it in the comment section below!