Making Mistakes at Work - Zinny Factor

Are you one of those who believes that to be successful, you should have made at least one mistake along the line?

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

– Conrad Hilton

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

– Albert Einstein

If you work in the corporate world, you have probably heard a number of times that mistakes are costly and you should do everything within your power to ensure that you make no mistakes. As professionals, we are told to create the best resumes, to ace the job interview and network hard! God forbid you eventually make a mistake when you start the job or continue on it.

Most often than not, many young professionals are scared to let superiors know areas where they need some coaching which shouldn’t be.

Is it really an offense to make a mistake in your job? The answer is no. Even scientists agree that making mistakes is conducive to learning. Everyone makes mistakes. In 2015, it was reported that more than 65% of workers admitted to workplace mistakes due to tiredness.

However, you have to understand that making a mistake at work might be costly and may pose a threat to the company.

You also need to realize that some mistakes are bound to happen if some aspects of the job are unfamiliar to you as you’ll need some time to figure things out on the job. This explains why employers are keen on experience before being hired, as they want to reduce the amount of time that might be spent training you to reduce the number of mistakes made on the job.

We can’t tell you to not make mistakes on the job as it will help you get better on the job. However, we will share a few things to do when or if you make a mistake at work.

1. Own up to it

If you make a mistake that could jeopardize the company, let the appropriate person know rather than trying to hide it. If you can fix it immediately without affecting anyone, that will be good to do. That way, you will learn to never make the same error again and find useful alternatives to the issue at hand without raising eyebrows.

This might take you a few extra hours, but the good thing is that you will be able to save the company from any repercussion that might arise from the mistake.

2. Make a plan

As much as you should be willing to share your mistake with your boss if inevitable, you should also have an idea in place to remedy the situation. This is where the ‘problem-solving’ skills needed for your job will come in handy and remember to have more than one solution to present.

3. Don’t point fingers or blame anyone

Most often than not, the workplace plays a team-oriented environment and there might have been some other coworkers who played a role in the mistake.

In that case, it wouldn’t help to point fingers. It’s advisable to use pronouns such as ‘we’ as opposed to owning the mistake where you weren’t directly responsible for it.

Depending on your position, it might be expected that you’d play an active role in taking responsibility for any action, however, you shouldn’t decide to shoot yourself in the foot. Focus your energy on solving the issue at hand as soon as possible.

4. Communicate better

Learning how to offer suggestions, comments or opinions without accusing anyone directly is also important. Take a look at both statements below.

First statement:

“Eric made an error with the report and because of that, we won’t be receiving our payments at the due date.”

Second statement:

“After carefully reviewing the report, it might appear that we may have omitted some information which might delay our payment.”

What are your thoughts concerning the above statements?

The first statement appears to put the blame on Eric. The second statement shows a team willing to solve the issue together and puts no direct blame on anyone.

Of course, the person responsible for the report would know. And as we’ve suggested: own up to it or take responsibility. Sometimes, simply taking note of your tone of communication and how your message is delivered, goes a long way in showing team spirit.

5. Identify why you made the mistake

You certainly need to sit and think for a few minutes. Why did you make the mistake? Could it have been avoided?

You need to be realistic because it’s important that you don’t make the same mistake twice, especially if it can be avoided. Was it as a result of stress? Where you not properly trained for the job? Figuring out why you made the mistake in the first place will help you discover a solution.

Remember to apologize, ask for help when you run into any trouble and should you be in doubt of a job/ task, you may find available answers simply by searching for keywords on Google.

Don’t compare your journey in the workplace to that of a colleague but compare your performance or progress today from that of yesterday, and remember to not beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

Did you enjoy this article? What mistake have you made at work in the past? Share with us and let’s know how you were able to resolve it. We love learning from you too. Subscribe to the blog to get inside scoop and information from us! Please share this article with friends and family who might find it useful.

This article first appeared in part in The Guardian Nigeria.