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4 Steps to Fixing Major Work Mistakes

4 Steps to Fixing Major Work Mistakes

We all make mistakes. Chances are, you’ll not be able to get through your career without making at least one—major or minor. The hardest part is first, admitting that you’ve erred, and then knowing what to do about it. When you make mistakes at work, don’t react right away. Take a deep breath and weigh your options. Here are five steps to help you recover and get yourself back on track.

1. Own your mistake.

There’s no getting around this one. You goofed. And everyone is going to know. There’s no point in trying to hide it, especially if other people will be affected by your gaffe. The sooner you take the blame and let people know what’s going on, the sooner the problem can be rectified. Don’t just say you did it and then walk away. Pull the Band-Aid off and get right down to damage control.

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Seek help if you need it. It may seem like a better idea to quietly fix it yourself, but the odds are you’ll miss something. It could be a more pervasive mess-up than you thought, or you could mess something else up in the process of trying to fix it. Be honest. Own it. And apologize. Then put yourself out there in the trenches until you set things right. People will respect you for your honorable behavior.

2. Get creative.

After admitting your mistake, don’t just sit there and wait for your boss to tell you how to fix the problem. Draw up an actionable plan right away by determining the best way to do some damage control and then act on it immediately. When disclosing your snafu, have a few suggestions as to how you plan to fix the problem. Offer the best solution first to make the situation seem less dire. Show you’re in control. You’ve already learned from your mistake, and you’re already working to fix things. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get yelled at, but it might mean your boss will take note of your character throughout the situation. Handle this well, and minimize the damage, and you might maximize your boss’s good opinion.

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3. Forgive yourself.

Seriously, everybody screws up every now and then. Don’t beat yourself up too hard. For one thing, it’s a waste of time. For another, if you’re too busy gnashing your teeth, you won’t have time to learn from your mistake. So forgive yourself. Turn this failure into a life lesson, and use it to help make you better at your job. Use it to help you grow. Debrief yourself, alter your course to avoid similar fudge-ups in the future, and then move forward.

4. Straighten up and fly right.

Even if you did all of the above, you’ll still have to earn back trust. Start small—get all your smaller projects off your desk, with efficiency and precision. Log these minor victories in quick succession. Then move on to bigger ones. Go the extra mile as often as you can. Little by little, your boss will be so charmed that he’ll forget what happened last month—he’ll be too busy reveling in the quality of your work this month.

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You’re going to mess up eventually. What matters isn’t when or how, but how you choose to handle yourself in such situations. When in doubt, choose honesty, integrity, and good hard work to pull things back together. At the most basic level, your mistake means nothing. When you own up to your mistake and take action, your mistake actually help you to grow and become a better person. Don’t let your mistake shake you up. You got this!

How do you recover when you make mistakes at work? We want to hear from you!

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Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Jessie Liu

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Last Updated on November 19, 2018

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

I went through a personal experience that acted as a catalyst for an epiphany. When I got fired from a job, I learned something important about myself and where I was headed with my freelance career. I realized that the most important aspect of that one rather small job was the influence of the company owner. I realized that I wasn’t hurt that the company and I weren’t a perfect match; I was devastated by the stark fact that I needed a mentor and I had almost found one but lost her.

Suddenly, I felt like J.D., the main character in “Scrubs,” chasing Dr. Cox and trying to rip insight and wisdom from someone I respect. The realization that a recognized thought-leader and experienced entrepreneur severed ties with me felt crushing. But, I picked myself back up and thought about five ways to acquire a mentor without having the awkwardness of outright asking.

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1. Remember, a professional mentorship must be mutual.

A professional mentor must agree to engage in a mutual relationship because, as the comedy T.V. series showed us, one simply cannot force someone to tutor us. We have to prove that we are worth the time investment through persistence and dedication to the craft.

2. You have to have common interests with your mentor.

Even if a professional mentor appears at your job or school, realize that unless you and this person have common interests, you won’t find the relationship successful. I’ve been in situations where someone I respected had vastly different ideas about what was important in life or what one should spend his or her free time doing. If these things don’t line up, you may find the relationship won’t be as fruitful, even when the mentor knows a great deal about one industry.

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3. Thought-leaders will respect your passion.

One of the ways you can prove yourself worthy to a professional mentor is through your passion and your dedication. No one wants to spend time grooming and teaching another who will not take advice or put the effort in to improve. When following thought-leaders on Twitter and trying to engage with higher-ups in a work setting, realize that your actions most often speak louder than your words.

4. Before worrying if he respects you, ask if you respect him.

On the other side of the coin, you should seriously reflect on those common interests and make sure you respect your professional mentor. Just because someone holds a title, degree or office does not mean that person is trustworthy or honest. Don’t be swayed by appearances and take the time to find a suitable professional mentor.

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5. Failure is often the best way to learn

I honestly have made more mistakes than I can count. I know I’ve learned a great deal from poorly organized businesses and my own poor choices. The most important quality I’ve developed is an ability to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. If life knocks me down nine times, I get back up 10 times. One of the songs Megadeth wrote, “Of Mice and Men,” resonates in my mind when I pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again for a goal I’ve set: “So live your life and live it well. There’s not much left of me to tell. I just got back up each time I fell.” Hopefully, this brief post can act as a professional mentor to you in your quest to find not only a brave leader but also a trusted adviser.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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