You do it, I do it, my family does it, my employees do it, we all make mistakes. However, it’s the part that follows that is more crucial than the original mistake. Well, in most cases!
“A slip of the mind”, “drawing a blank”, “slipped between the cracks”, “went in one ear and out the other” are all synonyms for everyday occurrences when a mistake happens in the workplace. In my opinion, it is more common than it should be but it’s also very human. And the fact of the matter is, I’m okay with it sometimes and not okay with it, other times. It all depends on two things: Why did it happen and how was it remedied.
Socrates, DaVinci, even Einstein got things wrong but not from lack of effort or lackadaisicalness. That’s when I have a hard time accepting mistakes. Generally half-hearted attempts or laziness and I don’t get along very well.
But hard-working mistakes are another story. If you are working on behalf a client and accidentally forget something, do not attempt to hide it, as it will lead to a bigger problem down the road. Not to mention, it could become awkward at any point. Be honest and upfront. I do my best to let my clients know that I have their absolute best interest in mind and always put my money where my mouth is, so I don’t try to “cover up” or CMA.
But when a mistake happens, instead, I give them an honest explanation. Listen there are A-holes that are never going to be satisfied and we all know some of them. You know the folks just waiting to through someone under the bus to further their agenda. But you might find yourself surprised at how meaningful a straightforward explanation will go in terms of long-term relationships amongst clients.
Owning up to your boss should not be much different than a client, either. In essence, a client is a partner, and they really are your boss!
In this article by Forbes, researchers found these steps essential when responding to a boss in regards to making a mistake in the office:
- Expression of regret
- An explanation of what went wrong
- Declaration of repentance
- Offer of repair
- Request for forgiveness
My father was a wise man, not because he was my dad but because he really could see the forest from the trees. He had many sayings but here are a few.
“Don’t ever judge someone by their mistakes because we’re all going to make them. Judge them by how they correct them!” Another ditty was, “It’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it.” But here’s probably my favorite. But if you do it again, I just might think you’re stupid!
My point is if you are truly trying your best and have given the issue at hand your best, then we all must accept mistakes will still happen. However, when they do, own them and correct them to the best of your ability.
And the “request for forgiveness” should probably only be left for massive mistakes, as you don’t want to take it too far. People may mistake your kindness and openness as weakness and then try to exploit it in the future.
If an employee or owner takes full responsibility, says it won’t happen again, and then makes good on the activity by properly executing it the next time around, what else can you say to that? (Other than good job!)
Follow these steps, and you should have a much easier at bat the next time you step up to the plate.