Okay, You Made a Mistake at Work. Now What?

July 17th, 2012 by

Have you ever made an office gaffe? If yes, how did you react? Did you immediately come clean to your supervisor, apologizing for the error you committed? Or did you cower in your office, hoping no one would figure out it was your fault when “you know what” hit the fan.

Depending on your workplace environment, you and your team members’ reactions to mistakes could vary greatly. How does your company handle mistakes? Are people yelled at, punished or embarrassed? What comes after the mistake? Nothing, ambivalence or more rules? Well if any of those characteristics described your workplace, an evaluation of how you handle mistakes is appropriate.

Supporting team members when they make mistakes is helpful to all involved. When a mistake is not the end of your career, you’re able to learn lessons and more. Here are four benefits of owning up to your workplace blunders:

Avoid the Drama

Excuses, blame games and throwing people under the bus can ensue after a workplace mistake is discovered. However, if you cultivate a culture in which mistakes are permitted and you’re required to learn a lesson, a probable witch hunt will be thwarted because the culprit will feel comfortable coming clean. He won’t have to waste more time covering his tracks or creating alibis.

A Quicker Fix

The faster your team learns who’s responsible for the mistake, why the mistake was made and how the mistake will affect business, the quicker you can work to resolve any issues that are associated with it. Don’t let a workplace oversight take control of your organization. Encourage your team to be forthcoming with errors that will affect your business. Although it might cause an immediate small pain, in the long run, your business should be feeling fine.

Innovation and Efficiency Arise

Sometimes an employee mistake reveals the inefficiency of a workplace process that needs updating. Knowing where an assignment went wrong or how a deliverable was held up could foster innovation for preventing a similar occurrence from happening again. Challenge your employees to find a solution to a mistake first.

Number of Mistakes Decrease

The more stressed an employee is, the more mistakes he is likely to make. Being fearful of making an error only increases pressure on yourself and your employees. Letting them know that mistakes happen and a blunder is not the end of the world will help them shake away some stress, have clearer heads and perform at optimal levels for your organization.

For advice to encourage your team members to not be afraid to make or reveal a mistake, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Brett Jordan

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