So you’ve just made a big mistake. Here’s what to do

Turn on the news and you’ll see plenty of people in hot water over mistakes they’ve made.

There are some pretty powerful people out there, I’m sure you’ll agree, who make expensive and damaging errors every day.

Confused Employee Getting Order From BossNow, I’m not saying that’s OK or that they shouldn’t take responsibility for what’s happened.

But my point is that it’s natural to make mistakes and we need to put our errors into perspective.

As an employer, I know how terrible good staff feel when they make a clumsy error.

But I also know that good employees are skilled at knowing how to come together to fix a problem.

The last thing you want in your organisation is a culture of fear because that not only flattens morale, but it’s also really bad for business.

I would prefer staff take a few calculated risks in an effort to innovate rather than play it safe out of a fear of looking stupid or getting it wrong.

Because mistakes happen to the best of us and a big part of being successful in life is knowing how to handle them.

Here’s where to start.

1. Acknowledge it

The first thing to do is to admit to the error.

Yep, you’d be surprised by how many people want to blame others for what has happened or pretend they know nothing about it, but this is a cowardly move.

No one respects someone who tries to shift the blame onto someone else.

You need to stand up and cop it on the chin.. R

People will respect you more if you’re able to own up to an error.

And they’ll like you more, too, because it shows that you’re human and people like that because it’s relatable.

2. Rectify it

Once you have owned up, the first question you need to ask is: what needs to happen?

Depending on the seriousness of the error, you may need to take some drastic steps to rectify the situation.

This will require a cool head and an ability to think on your feet. Decisive Step

Stay calm and think logically about the steps that you need to take immediately to fix the problem.

Try and think of all the potential flow-on effects from the error that you have made.

Develop a plan of attack, and, if need be, run it past someone.

Do they think that plan sounds like a good idea?

Is it the best way to handle the situation?

This will ensure that you nip the mistake in the bud as soon as possible.

3. Analyse it

Once the dust has settled, you can take some time to look at what went wrong.

But here’s the key: don’t beat yourself up.

There are some mistakes that are just plain old human error and if yours falls into that category then there is no point wallowing. Analysis

If, however, you seem to make the same or similar mistakes frequently, then you need to ask yourself a few questions:

Are you run down and not focused?

If so, you need to look at ways of disconnecting and ensuring that you’ve got plenty of energy and concentration for work.

Perhaps it’s your skills that you need to upgrade?

Sometimes mistakes come about because technology has moved ahead of us and we’ve failed to keep up.

Another reason may be that you’re not listening to good advice.

Make sure that those that surround you know what they’re doing and have your best interests at heart.

4. Learn from it

Finally, you need to put some systems in place to prevent future errors.

Often big mistakes are blessings in disguise because they expose a weakness in the system that needs to be patched up.

But be careful how hard you try to eliminate mistakes from your workplace. Learn

You want just enough stopgaps to ensure things run smoothly, but you also want to leave room for creativity, flexibility and initiative.

Sure, this will expose you to a higher chance of making an error, but that’s life.

They say a life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

Well, let’s alter that statement slightly to say that a life lived in fear of making a mistake is a live half-lived.

Very few mistakes are so bad that you can’t come back from them.

And don’t forget: mistakes are often our best teachers.

When you’re ready to build a business, not just a job, we’re here to help you

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Mark Creedon


Mark Creedon is Director of Metropole Business Advisory and business coach to some of Australia's leading entrepreneurs - each who call him their "unreasonable friend"
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