Making mistakes at work can help you improve your processes and develop trust among your colleagues. It also shows your team members how you handle errors, demonstrating your professionalism. Learning the steps for addressing mistakes at work with your team and identifying the root cause of those mistakes can help you avoid making similar errors in the future.
In this article, we discuss what you can do if you make a mistake on the job and tips to prevent errors in the future.
What to do after making mistakes at work
If you make a mistake at work, you can take certain steps to help reduce the impact and prevent it from happening again. Once you recognize that you’ve made a mistake, here’s what you can do:
1. Address your feelings
It’s natural to experience some frustration or embarrassment after making a mistake at work. However, it’s also important to progress forward and shift your energy to responding properly. Take a few moments to release negative feelings and adopt a positive attitude so that you can learn from the mistake and perform better in the future.
2. Acknowledge the error
Acknowledging the mistake not only to yourself but also to others emphasizes your level of professionalism. When you tell others of your mistake, be direct and straightforward. Explain the situation so your manager and coworkers understand what transpired. Promptly communicate with members of your team once you realize the mistake so you have time to rectify it.
3. Offer an apology
Offering a genuine apology to anyone affected by your mistake accomplishes multiple things. It shows that you sincerely regret the error and take responsibility for it. It also demonstrates that you respect the people who your mistake affected. If there were any lingering feelings of negativity over the error, a genuine apology can help restore a positive relationship.
4. Evaluate the cause
Think about how the mistake occurred. Evaluating the cause of the error can help you highlight how your actions contributed to what happened, and you can more easily identify potential mistakes in the future. For example, if you submitted a report with spelling errors, you may conclude that you didn’t have time to double-check your work. Now you know to spend time proofreading before turning in your assignments.
5. Find a solution
Next, it’s time to rectify any problems that resulted from the error. Identify a solution to resolve any problems that happened because of the mistake and communicate your solution to any key stakeholders. This could mean working after hours or simply apologizing to a client personally. If the mistake impacted colleagues and added extra work to their roles, look for ways you can alleviate their workload. You can help build trust in the workplace since you’re demonstrating how you take full responsibility for mistakes.
6. Plan what to do next time
Evaluate what you could do differently next time to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again. Whatever caused the mistake to happen, identify the issue and address it. You can start on a project sooner to meet the deadline or set aside time to work undisturbed on just a single project. Communicate the solution to your managers so they have confidence that you’ve taken steps to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
7. Prioritize your self-care
Your physical, mental, and emotional well-being can influence your quality of work. Once you’ve planned how to rectify your mistake, contemplate how you can take care of yourself to make sure you have the energy to focus on your work tasks. For example, you can plan to get more hours of sleep so you’re alert to pay more attention to detail. You can also aim to establish boundaries between your work and personal life to minimize distractions.
8. Create a positive pattern of work
Once you resolve the mistake, take actions that show you’re improving your work style. Adhere to the new guidelines you set for yourself to avoid making the same errors. If you find a method that works particularly well, share it with your coworkers, who may find it useful too. Setting this example encourages more communication, which can be useful in identifying ways to reduce the possibility of future mistakes.
Tips to reduce the likelihood of making mistakes at work
Here are some tips you can use to reduce the chances of making more errors at work:
Give your work full attention at optimal times. Depending on your personal energy levels, structure your day to work on your highest-priority tasks when you feel most energized. Another strategy is to work on these projects during your day when others are least likely to disturb you.
Double-check all communications and presentations. The more you get in the habit of checking for errors before clicking the “Send” button in chat or email, or printing documents for others to read in a meeting, the more assurance you can have that your communications are error-free.
Create checklists. A checklist can help you avoid making mistakes, especially for more repetitive tasks. Once you have a process in place, follow the specific steps on your list each time you complete that task.
Review your work. Each time you’re done with a task or process, especially high-priority work, review it for mistakes. If possible, take a break from the project before reviewing it for the final time so you can more successfully identify errors later.
Take breaks. Take a break from work every 90 minutes to two hours to increase the likelihood of error-free work. Try to take a break away from your workspace to fully disengage from your responsibilities.
Eliminate distractions. When you’re working on high-priority tasks, put your phone away, close your email and unnecessary browsers and put any work-related messenger apps on “do not disturb” mode. Keep a pen and notepad available to write down any unrelated thoughts to help you stay on task.
Ask questions. When you start a new job or begin a new project, ask questions so you can fully understand your role. Learning more about your duties and the steps you’re planning to take can help you eliminate the possibility of making errors.
Create a detailed schedule. To ensure you meet deadlines, use a calendar that outlines everything you plan to do in a day, week, and month. You can even schedule your hours so you spend the right amount of time on each task.
I hope you find this article helpful.