Do you want to be at the top of your career game without the fear of making mistakes at work?
If your answer is yes, then you’ve got a lofty desire. But the question is, how realistic could that be?
True, every workplace can get preoccupied with pressure on workers to produce high-quality results through their best performances. As a result, mistakes often become inevitable.
You may get out of shape and get things done in ways that would amount to mistakes. Or you may be new to a particular working situation or the use of a specific technology, and the possibility abounds that you may be the person to make the next mistake in your team. Big or small.
While that sounds like some evil prophecy, it’s a fact you can relate to. But, in this article, you’ll learn how you can avoid making mistakes at work all the time. Coupled with how you can deal with a mistake you’ve already made without the fear of getting fired burning your heart off.
Making mistakes at work: Examples of common mistakes people make
As said earlier, we’re humans; and we’re going to make mistakes. And, in the corporate world, everyone does make mistakes, whether a top management officer or a junior staff. Or as the case may be. But how you respond upon realizing that you’ve made a mistake makes all the difference— for your company and personal brand. You may decide to screw yourself, turn everything into a piece of shit or apply yourself to fixing the mess.
All that said, here are some of the common mistakes people make at the workplace:
- Forgetting; to carry out essential tasks. It could be that you forgot to print out a handout that you’re supposed to present in a business meeting. So there you’re seated in the meeting, disturbed and feeling like you’re going to pee on your nice-looking corporate outfit.
- Sharing or presenting wrong information, either in word or in writing. And usually, this piece of information is sensitive and involves figures.
- Missing deadlines; for one reason or the other. Say, for example, your boss gives you a task to do before the second day elapses, and for whatever reason, you finish up at the late hours of the third day.
- Spelling or grammatical errors in documents
How to stop making mistakes at work without beating yourself
At one point or the other, everyone who has achieved success in their careers has screwed up things at their workplace. The same way they have in their personal lives. And, at such moments, the fear in them resembles that of someone sitting on a time bomb.
Thus, making mistakes at work can be frightening. Whether you just started a job or you’ve spent years in a particular company. It’s even scarier when you can’t entertain the thought of getting fired by your employer.
That said, below are ways you deal with the anxiety of making mistakes at work:
1. Keep things in perspective
The natural impulse of humans when thinking about the consequence of an action is how it will affect them big-time. That’s the same feeling you experience when you discover a terrible mistake you’ve made at your workplace. And every so often, the fear of getting fired or legal issues may cloud your ability to look at the whole picture without bias.
But you sure don’t want that! And that’s why you should keep things in perspective as you reflect objectively and not get too emotional about what has happened. That should allow you to process your emotions and look beyond the pain of the mistakes as you come up with possible solutions.
2. Be proactive
You can only start acting on possible remedial actions when you first discover mistake you’ve made at work. In other words, someone else may be the one to realize the mistake you made if you don’t discover it on time. But for mistakes you’ve observed, you don’t want someone else to spot them and be the one to call them up.
Thus, honestly, you must nail yourself before someone else nails you. That’s to say, upon citing an error you’ve committed, you bring it to the notice of those concerned or affected. But note, before you do that— bring the issue to the court of public opinion— you should have contemplated solutions for the challenge.
3. Be transparent
To be proactive isn’t enough. You must be honest in detailing what has happened and how it all happened. You don’t want to put your head in the sand and act like nothing happened.
By being transparent, you acknowledge the mistake and stay honest in giving an account of the incident. Fine, you may have messed up, but it requires being upfront to let your team lead know the mistake you made and its consequences and what you propose to do to resolve the issue.
Quite frankly, you may get tempted to talk less of the size of the mistakes when reporting since you’re the one who caused them. But that’s not the best thing to do. Call a spade a spade. If it’s a big deal, say the way without trying to downplay it.
4. Make a brief apology
Making mistakes at work and handling them isn’t something anyone enjoys. It’s not a piece of candy to eat with smiles on one’s face. But through it, your job and career are often on the line. And that’s the reason you should show how sorry you’re for your mistake. You may decide to call your boss via the telephone or have a private meeting with him.
You can serve a statement like this in your brief apology to your boss: “I’ve messed up by not paying attention to detail. Here’s what I’m working on to address the situation”…as you hand a document (a piece of evidence) confirming what you’re saying.
With that, you stand a great chance of losing yourself as someone with good character and self-respect who cares about your job and company. Even in your mistake.
5. Learn from your mistake
While it may lower your credibility level for a while, making mistakes at work is not a death sentence. But it’s a pathetic situation when people don’t learn from their mistakes. One of the signs that you’ve learned from your mistake is that you become pragmatic in considering things and ways you can prevent terrible mistakes at work in the future.
Say you made the mistake of forgetting an important document you are to use in a business meeting at your office. You can decide to put up the habit of not taking relevant files home a day before such a meeting.
6. Move on while you adjust your working style
One thing many people don’t know how to do is “moving on.” Perhaps, because it takes courage and self-confidence to do that. But the earlier you know that making mistakes at work is part of the experiences in your career journey that you can’t do away with, the better for you. Even though you can (and should) reduce it to its barest least.
In simple terms, don’t beat yourself too much. While you’ve learned your lesson, you should strive to make adjustments. In your work style in particular, as you move on.
For instance, you passed a nasty comment about a colleague in a meeting, which you only realized after you had said it.
You may want to practice the “second thought” principle before spilling anything out of your mouth, especially at work. That’s to say, you must learn to weigh your thoughts, the second time, before saying them.
Remember staying in charge of your thoughts and the word you say is a deep life lesson, which you can also apply at work.
We’ve looked at making mistakes at work as an issue, why you should own up to any mistake you make in a professional environment without allowing the fear of getting laid off to stop you. It’s better to save your self-respect and integrity without trying to cover things up through lying because that may taint your entire career journey.