You’ve been there. It’s a typical busy day filled with meetings, phone calls, emails, texts, conference calls, and projects. Then, out of nowhere, it hits you like a ton of bricks and your heart drops. You realize that you’ve completely dropped the ball. You’ve screwed up. Although your first reaction may be to run and hide under your desk — don’t do it.
Like it or not, we all screw up at one time or another. No matter how meticulously you’ve planned out your tasks, it’s bound to happen. What next? If you handle the mistake right, then you can do more to impress those around you than to tarnish their view of your work. In fact, you can come back stronger and wiser than before.
You can’t turn back time to fix the problem but here are four tips for recovering gracefully after a mistake:
1. Own it.
Don’t point any fingers. Don’t blame anyone else. Take a deep breath and accept responsibility for what happened. It’s crucial to own up to the error. Apologize for your misstep. Many times we work on teams and mistakes are often shared. Even if it was a group mistake, then accept responsibility for your own duties without throwing anyone else under the bus.
2. Fix it.
Don’t wait around for someone else to tell you how to fix the situation. Take responsibility, initiative and draw up your own action-oriented plan. How will you fix this? What will you do differently going forward? Don’t make someone else do the dirty work for you. Taking responsibility includes cleaning up after yourself.
3. Learn from it.
What can you do to prevent the same mistake in the future? What can you do to improve? Gather advice from your trusted network. Use this wisdom to learn where you may have gone wrong.
4. Move on from it.
Put it behind you and get back out there. It can be hard to rebuild confidence after a slip up. Once you put the mistake behind you, focus on the future. Chances are that everyone else wants to move on from it as well.
Mistakes are not a sign of weakness or ineptitude and your recovery can demonstrate resilience and perseverance. Turn your mistake into an opportunity to show your coworkers, managers, and clients what you can do.
Remember, screwing up is an inevitable part of your professional life. As awful as it feels when it happens, you will recover and emerge better than before.