DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2007
Mistakes. Ugh. How embarrassing! No one likes to mess up but, unfortunately, it happens. While some blunders are very serious and result in major consequences, most people get into trouble because of how they behave afterwards – not from the mistake itself. Managers get more upset if you try to cover up or act like “it’s no big thing” than they do about the error. So dig deep for the courage to deal with your mistakes honestly.
Make a beeline to your boss’ office and report what happened. It does you no good to try hide out as if nothing happened and it certainly will be unbecoming professionally to try to blame others. Coming up with lame excuses or trying to fast talk your way out of things also makes you look bad. Own up. Take responsibility for what happened. Try to explain yourself as best you can. People rarely mean to make a mistake intentionally, so focus on what you intended – no matter that you overlooked some detail or did something incorrectly so that a mistake was made. Fortunately, many companies today are trying to create a healthy workplace that avoids the “blame game” so that employees will execute tasks with greater initiative, creativity and innovation. They understand that sometimes you may go too far too fast, but rarely is this the end of the world, so most will not despair-–but be prepared for the fact that they won’t like having a new problem to contend with.
Fix the Mess
Since you created the problem, immediately do all that you can to correct it. Ask for direction about the best course of corrective action and offer your opinions and suggestions about the best remedy. After all, you probably know more about the task or project than your manager but he or she is likely to have a better grasp of the impact on the players involved and the wide reaching implications of the blunder. While fixing the problem will probably whip a lot of people in the organization up and into action, the primary person coming in early, staying up late, and running around should be you. Be as helpful as you can until things are made right.
While it’s not necessary to tell the whole world about your mistake, be sure to apologize to those who are most affected by it. Lots of extra time, staff, and resources are expended to fix or minimize the actual or potential damages caused by mistakes in an organization. So, it’s important for you to show good character and express remorse for the cost of your error and any inconvenience caused to others. Yes, you feel ashamed and are hoping that it will all go away. But it won’t, so keep things from getting worse by proving yourself to be the true professional that you are.
It’s no fun to make a mistake. But it’s not the end of the world, either, so take a deep breath and deal with it immediately so that you can restore your reputation. Most workplaces are so hectic that people will soon move on to other business and you will quickly have new opportunities to redeem yourself. Don’t be sensitive if mention is made of the past error. It probably will come up from time to time. Learn from it so that you don’t make the same mistake again. Take care to double check your work, seek consultation if you’re unsure about something, and the quality of work that you are otherwise known for will shine through once again.
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at https://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
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