Cubicle Buzz

“Make sure you “confess” right away, and in person …”

You’ve made a mistake at Work; Now What?

It happens to the best of us.  A mistake, be it a small oops or a BIG one, that could require your employer to take disciplinary action, is still a mistake.  Either way, what do you do now?

#1 and unarguably most important; Make sure you “confess” and do it right away. Never do it by email or phone. Do it in person. Rip that band aid off quick and albeit painfully, as soon as you possibly can.  By not immediately telling your manager  about your mistake, you risk someone else doing it for you, or worse, your boss discovering the error on her own.  It’s a hard conversation to have but it is a requirement.

No doubt, your superior will not be completely thrilled, but she is human too, and we all make mistakes.  Ensure you understand why, and how you made the error, and come to her with the solution and steps the team can take, to make sure the same error doesn’t occur again.

After the dust has settled a little, you should follow up.  Ask if there is anything else you can do to rectify the situation and if she needs any other information from you. She will no doubt have to pass along this info, if it directly effects another department or person.  Remember that she is ultimately responsible for the work that happens, so she also owns this error.

Let’s face it; stuff happens.  Everyone makes mistakes. How you handle the storm afterwards is what is going to stick out to your manager.  If you can confidently defend your efforts to make sure your work is done properly from now on, your manager cannot argue with that.  Put your chin up and move on. Don’t continue to apologize or dwell on this. Use it as a learning experience and move on to your next tasks with care.

If your error was a big one, one that will require some discipline, take that graciously too.  Managers don’t enjoy reprimanding their team, but sometimes they have to.  More than likely it will be One & Done, so after the action has been taken, assure her it will not happen again, and make sure that it doesn’t.


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© Copyright Nikki Biehn  – Alberta Building Careers 2015