Oops! Make a mistake at work?

How to own up without hurting your career

By JARROD CARDY
If you make a mistake, you're in good company. Stay that way by doing the right thing next.
If you make a mistake, you're in good company. Stay that way by doing the right thing next.

It’s a fact: Mistakes happen in the workplace.

According to a study by the International Journal of Research in Management and Technology, between 70 and 90 per cent of all mistakes in the workplace are due to human error. The report goes on to note, though, that if an organisation takes steps to ensure its employees that when mistakes are reported they will not be reprimanded, those employees are much more likely to report.

Still, not every organisation is so forward thinking, and there are those people who try to hide or minimise their mistakes instead of fessing up. 

“In the business world there is a culture of perfectionism, where people believe they have to know everything and [that] it’s not ok to make a mistake,” says Fiona Craig, who owns a career and leadership development business based in Brisbane, Australia. 

What should you do if you make a mistake? Below are three suggestions.


Be honest


According to Steve Shepherd, Group Director of Randstad, a recruitment company which has offices across the Asia Pacific region, after making a mistake it’s important to be honest about what has happened.

In the business world there is a culture of perfectionism, where people believe they have to know everything.— Fiona Craig



Shepherd says owning up to an error as soon as you realise one has been made will ensure it doesn’t turn into a bigger problem.

“Most people understand that mistakes are made in business. But bigger problems occur when those mistakes are covered up or hidden and then the issue can continue on for some time,” says Shepherd.

 


Provide a solution


When telling a manager about a mistake, Craig suggests providing a solution to fix the problem.

She says most managers want their employees to be more solution focused rather than focusing on the problem.

“When you make a mistake, don’t go into panic mode. Look at the mistake rationally. If it’s a big mistake let the emotions come out, but then say ‘I can’t undo the error so how do I go about fixing it?” Craig suggests.


Create a good environment


Making sure there is a good work culture can help workers to identify their mistakes early and learn from the error.

Shepherd says leaders in any organisation need to make sure employees are not afraid to speak up about mistakes. 
 
“Managers need to create an environment where there is open communication, [one] that recognises that mistakes will happen and that it’ll be used as a learning curve for people.”


Ever make a sizeable mistake at work? Tell us how you handled it in the comments below. 













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