Friday, March 25, 2011

Handling Mistakes

At some point in your career, you will make a mistake or two. Since we are all prone to human error, it is usually not the mistake that matters most, but the way you deal with it. The words and actions you choose demonstrate your character. Following are some tips for successfully dealing with your mistake while keeping your professional integrity intact.

Take Responsibility

The best thing you can do is own up to your mistake—take responsibility. Bring it to the attention of your manager and/or other internal colleague(s) who could be impacted. If your mistake has no impact on your co-workers, inform your manager anyway. This will prevent him/her from thinking you were trying to hide the mistake. Taking responsibility also translates to not blaming others for your error. Even in situations where someone else’s actions may have contributed to your mistake—for example, by not giving you adequate instructions—pointing it out can be interpreted as a weakness. Chances are, the full details may come out over time as the matter is resolved, without you casting blame.

Present Solutions

Present a solution(s) to the problem. If you have immediate ideas, share these with your manager If not, offer to do whatever it takes to identify a solution and correct the problem, like working extra hours.

Ask for Help

Sometimes a reluctance to ask for help may have led to making the mistake. For example, if you didn’t completely understand directions, you should have asked clarifying questions. Mistakes also result when large workloads cause you to rush your work. If this is the case, ask your manager to help you prioritize assignments and tasks.

Move On

Don’t waste valuable time and energy beating yourself up over your mistake—learn from it, identify ways to prevent it in the future, and move on.

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