I used this quote for many years while teaching freshmen orientation classes,
“If you are not making mistakes then you are not learning.”
In taking chances to make our work better – you’ll have to assume some sort of risk. With this risk, mistakes are sure to happen. It’s a part of life.
If you ever found yourself realizing that you missed an important deadline, meeting or just simply failed to make a good decision. The good news I have for you is that all great leaders make mistakes. Taking quick action after they happen is the key to overcome them.
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
– Conrad Hilton
When you realize you have made a mistake at work – here are some tips to regaining your creditability.
- Accept the responsibility: As the leader of any organization, any mistakes in the ranks are your mistakes. It is easy to blame others openly to try to protect your reputation. I would caution you not to attack people during these challenging times. Giving excuses are a waste of time. Unfortunately many leaders spent far too much time blaming the mistake on others. If it is possible to fix the problem, then focus on what steps can be taken to correct the problem.
- Over communicate on the status of problem and the plan of action. This include shooting straight on how the mistake happen. Make yourself available to answer questions to the people or stakeholders that are affected by the mistake. The first stop after learning of the mistake should be your immediate supervisor. Failing to report this quickly can cause problems with trust. The leadership can’t help you address the problem if you can not admit the mistake upfront. Leaders understand that mistakes happen but hate it when they are not reported and are caught cold by hearing it from other company employees. Don’t share the problem in a way that hides the real problem or issues. In most cases, the truth will come out.
- Find a solution. If the mistake was major — like a costly budget error — or affects a great group of people besides your boss, it is best to run the plan of action by your supervisor in writing and meeting. Even if your boss chooses to be the one to handle the situation, you’re still showing leadership by offering possible solutions instead of hiding the problem. If you have to spend extra hours at work to correct your mistake, don’t expect to be paid for that time. You can also use your lunch hour or come into work early. A quick action plan will give you the best chance to quickly regain your reputation and creditability.
- In the future – giving greater attention to important details will help you to create additional time before the next mistake. And remember these five things not to do: Don’t play the blame game, cry, unload on social networks, leave, or internalize it too much.