Your eyes are wide and your palms are sweating. Oh no, I really messed up this time. How am I going to recover from this?
We’ve all had these moments in the workplace. There’s an accidental oversight, a miscommunication, or a flat-out error that is one hundred percent your fault. While there may be consequences (or if nothing else, a bruised ego), you can and will get through this. It’s all in how you handle the situation moving forward.
How should this be handled? Let’s jump in.
Step 1: Relax
While you shouldn’t see the situation as a walk in the park, panicking isn’t going to get you anywhere. The moment you feel your heart sink, take 1-2 minutes to breathe. This step is critical because it sets the tone for your behavior in steps 2-6.
Step 2: Assess
Next, figure out exactly what happened and what actions you took that contributed to the issue. Is there a possibility that you can fix it yourself with minimal damage done? If not, take inventory of what led to the current problem.
Step 3: Problem Solve
Before running to apologize to higher-ups, formulate a couple of possible solutions to the issue. Even if you can’t act on them yourself, be ready to share with the necessary party. It’s a lot easier to hear bad news if resolution ideation is already rolling.
Step 4: Approach the Appropriate Individual
Once you’ve assessed what happened and have a few solutions laid out, approach the appropriate individual who needs to know about the situation. Be calm, and be matter of fact. As tempting as it may be to unleash the biggest apology of your lifetime, there is time for emotions later. Right now, focus on explaining what happened, take ownership, and suggest ways you’re prepared to fix it.
Step 5: Take Action
You’ve relaxed, assessed, problem-solved, and informed. Now it’s time to put the plan into motion. Take the necessary actions required to mend the problem according to your conversation with the appropriate individual.
Step 6: Be Proactive
Mistakes are bound time happen from time to time. No one is perfect, and we’re all going to experience a “Yikes!” moment here and there. What is crucial is to not let the mistake happen again. Make a plan to ensure that the mistake will not be repeated. A mistake made once is a learning experience. A mistake made twice is carelessness.
Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.
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