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A Guide to Handling Mistakes at Work

Well, you messed up. Don’t worry; It happens to everyone. (Literally, everyone.) Maybe you made an error, had some miscommunication with a coworker or didn’t follow proper procedures. Whatever it was, it can feel like the end of the world. But chin up, buttercup! Luckily for you, we’re sharing the ultimate guide to handling mistakes at work!

Step 1: Apologize

Alright – something happened. Whatever it was, acknowledge what happened and apologize to the appropriate person(s). Keep it short, yet sincere. No need to make excuses or dwell on it for too long. Simply say sorry, and work on correcting the issue as soon as you can. Whatever you do, don’t pretend like it didn’t happen. Mistakes at work have a tendency to reveal themselves sooner or later, and can affect an entire team.

Step 2: Feel Your Feelings (and quickly move on)

After making a mistake at work, it’s completely normal to be embarrassed. But don’t let the feeling take over. Allow yourself a few minutes, to feel embarrassed then move on. You’ve already made the mistake and apologized – there’s nothing else you can do besides trying to fix it.

Step 3: Make a Game Plan

Look at why you made the mistake and figure out how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Try making notes, changing your routine, or slowing down. Ask for a refresher from your team lead to make sure you’re doing everything correctly.  If you’re able to find a new process that works for you, let your boss know what steps you’re taking.

Step 4: Be like Henry Ford

Even if your mistake was huge, you can recover from it. There’s no better way to earn people’s trust than to thrive after you’ve made a mistake, as it shows your resilience and ambition. I mean, look at Henry Ford. If he would have quit after his first failed business ventures, Ford Motor Company wouldn’t exist today.


About WSI

You know how they say actions speak louder than words? WSI is an award-winning staffing and recruiting firm because we understand the power of a positive and fulfilling workplace. We live and breathe it every day, and love helping others experience it too. Headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, WSI also has offices in Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Holland, Metro Detroit, and Sturgis, Michigan, and northern Indiana.  Learn more about us at wsitalent.com.

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