When you make a mistake at work, how you handle the mistake says much about you more than the mistake itself.
Bosses who are understanding and reasonable understand that no one is perfect and mistakes are bound to happen – they also care about what effort you have put in place to fix the mistake. Good news is, there is a formula for handling mistakes quite well. If you follow the steps outlined below ( and have an understanding boss at that), you will likely be surprised at how well your boss responds.
Here’s the formula:
- Tell Your Boss What Happened – Immediately. Do not put it off out of fear. If I was a boss, I would be more upset when an employee informs me of a mistake after time has passed. Delaying would mean that you value your own comfort over the needs of your work.
- Take Responsibility for the Mistake. Don’t make excuses and don’t be defensive. Also do not point fingers at others.
- Tell Your Boss How it Happened. Your boss does not only want to know, he/she wants to know that you know.
- Most Importantly, explain how you plan to ensure that it does not happen again.
When you make a mistake at work, best believe that this formula will work. The boss needs to also ensure that the employee understands the seriousness of it and knows how it can be avoided in the future. If you take the initiative to cover those things yourself, then your boss doesn’t need to do it herself (and having your boss impress upon you how serious a mistake was tends to be much less pleasant than saying it yourself).