It’s bound to happen. You’ve made a mistake (or two–or three) at work, and now, they are coming back to bite you in the butt. In your mind, you may feel like you won’t be able to come back from this. But in reality, most mistakes, no matter how critical can be corrected if you are proactive and are willing to do the work. Just look at Martha Stewart, who committed the ultimate no-no and landed herself in federal prison for insider trading. Once she completed her time and was released, she went about the task of righting her wrong. Martha worked on rehabilitating her image while reclaiming her throne as the go-to authority in lifestyle entertaining. Now, her past blunders are behind her and she is back on top.
And like Martha and so many others have proven, mistakes can be overcome. So I’m sharing five surefire ways to correct mistakes made at work. Follow my lead and prepare for a comeback.
Let’s get to work:
#1 Admit fault and apologize
When you’ve made a mistake at work, the first thing you must do is own it. The “woe is me” slash “victim” card usually doesn’t work in these instances. You will get more respect if you just admit to your mistake(s), and then move forward to working on a plan to erase them, or make the situation better. Apologize to those you need to, and then share your plan of attack, i.e. what you are going to do to fix it. In all likelihood, you will be forgiven, and if you take the negative and make it a positive one, you might even be rewarded.
#2 Correct the mistake before being told to (if you can)
Don’t wait for your boss or upper management to hold you to the fire. Being proactive in this situation is how you get yourself out the hole you are in. Work on a plan of fixing your mistake and then share this plan with them, so they know and understand that you’ve got everything under control. Showing initiative will be remembered well after your mistake has been forgotten.
#3 Be willing to sacrifice
When working to correct your mistake, you will probably have to work longer hours. You may even have to take work home with you to turn it around, and a weekend or two at the office might be warranted. Don’t complain or whine about this, just get ‘er done. No one wants to hear about how hard you are working on an issue that you caused, so just suck it up and fix it.
#4 Ask for help
Depending on your role and the nature of the mistake, asking for help and/or delegating can assist you in fixing the issue. If you have an authoritative position, you can utilize your staff or interns. But, in doing so, you also have to make sure that the work they are doing is making your load lighter and not heavier. If it’s something you can easily do on your own, that is best. But for bigger situations, getting assistance is always best.
#5 Lead by example
The mistake you made is just one part of the issue. The other is how you deal with the situation. By taking responsibility, being proactive, and doing the work necessary to right the wrong, you are showing leadership skills as well as accountability. I know you’d rather not be in a position where you made a mistake, but how you overcome it and move forward is almost as important as the blunder itself.
Mistakes—we all make them. But with planning and a good attitude and work ethic, you can turn around almost any situation.
If you are an entrepreneur and want to know how to fix your flub, check out How to Correct Mistakes In Your Small Business.