Woman upset at work from mistake.

It’s a tough situation. You’ve been doing extremely well at work. However, recently you made a mistake, and now you’re not sure how to proceed. First of all, remain calm. Making a mistake is something everyone has done at some point. We’ll share some advice on how you should approach a workplace mistake. Read on to find out the first step!

1. React Appropriately

While you may have expected the first step to be ‘don’t overreact’, that’s not the most accurate advice. While it certainly isn’t good to overreact to a mistake at work, it’s also important not to underreact. If you’re too calm, it may seem to others like you don’t care about your work. Make sure you keep your emotions in check, and clear your head when you approach a mistake.

2. Put the Mistake in Perspective

The next step is to think about the impact the mistake will have. While you should absolutely tell someone (which we will get to next), it’s important to understand the implications of the mistake. Think about how it will affect the company, and the flow of work. Put yourself in the shoes of a coworker or manager, and judge the magnitude of the mistake from that viewpoint. You will often realize it’s not as drastic as you had convinced yourself. Once you have a good handle on the situation it’s time to tell someone.

3. Be Up Front & Honest

While you may be tempted to hide the issue, it’s never the best course of action. In some cases, the mistake can get worse if it goes unchecked. A reasonable manager will understand that we all make mistakes, and appreciate your honesty. Even if the mistake is on a grand scale, and may cost you your job, you should be up front about it so it can get attended to. Apologize as is appropriate, and discuss the actions that should be taken to resolve the issue.

4. Figure Out the Cause

Once you’ve told someone, it’s time to figure out why the mistake happened. Think about all the variables in play, and what led you to slip up. This way you can take precautions in the future to keep it from happening again. If you were too tired to do you work correctly, get more sleep at night. If you were trying to multitask between too many projects, block out time to focus on one of them at a time. This will keep it from happening, and at the same time make you a better employee.

5. Work Hard to Earn Back Trust

It may seem obvious that you should work hard, but especially so after making a mistake. Eyes will be on you for the time following the mistake. Make sure you give only your best in the following days. This will help you earn back trust from your superior, and any coworkers that may have known about or been affected by the problem. Whether or not you’ve made a mistake, it’s always good advice to do your best. Once you’ve demonstrated that you’re committed to being a good employee and preventing mistakes from happening again, you will earn back trust.

It can be nerve wracking to deal with making mistakes at work, but even the best employee has made a mistake. If you want to be a good employee that learns and grows, it will take some mistakes to develop  your skills. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, just make sure you do your best to avoid them. When they do happen, just approach them with the above steps!