Yes, you read that right.
Trust us, making mistakes at work (and in life!) is crucial for growth. In this article, we’ll explain what to do when you make a mistake at work and how this experience will help you learn and grow.
Like the brilliant Stephen Hawking once said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”
What to Remember When You Make a Mistake at Work
Everyone Makes Mistakes
If you never made a mistake, you would be the first. So when you do make a mistake, keep in mind that everyone else has too–that means your co-workers have made mistakes, your managers have made mistakes, and even the CEO has made plenty of their own mistakes.
Here’s a secret that might help you the next time you make an error at work—we’re human. This is a common experience and everything will be fine!
Mistakes Are Not a Reflection of Your Value
We’ll say it again: mistakes are not a reflection of your value.
Just because you made a mistake doesn’t make you any less of a contribution to your team.
Mistakes Will Help You Grow
Making mistakes will lead you to learn the best way to do your job. You may not even know you’re doing something incorrectly until someone corrects you on it.
“From failure, you learn. From success, not so much.” —Meet the Robinsons
What to Do When You Made a Mistake at Work
So the inevitable happened! Despite constantly striving for perfection, you made a mistake. How can you learn from that, other than feeling embarrassed or allowing imposter syndrome to creep in?
The mistake already happened and there’s nothing you can do to take it back. However, what you can do is make it into a positive experience.
Pause and Process: Take a Second to Process Your Emotions
This is an excellent opportunity for you to practice your emotional intelligence. If you’re upset you made a mistake, ask yourself why. Are you more upset with how the mistake will affect your work or how it will reflect on you to your team? Do you think your team will think less of you if you aren’t perfect?
Make a Plan
Take a second to step back, calm down, and figure out what to do next. We suggest taking a pause to focus your thoughts and decide how exactly you will communicate your mistake to your team so they understand the full context of the situation.
We recommend starting a conversation with your team. Not only will this help you, but an open dialogue will create a positive learning environment where your team feels safe to discuss their own mistakes and ask for support. Further, by discussing what you did wrong, you may prevent others from making the same mistake. Often, you aren’t the only one on the team who might have misunderstood instructions or made this error.
You might consider asking yourself and your team questions such as:
- What can I do differently next time?
- Is there anything I can do to help fix what happened?
- How can I acknowledge the error and move forward?
This philosophy of creating a healthy work environment aligns with the Culture Works way.
Accept Your Mistake
The key to learning from mistakes is what response you have in the workplace. Owning your mistake in front of your team shows that you are an accountable team member. Take any new information you learned and implement it in your future work. Try not to hold onto any embarrassment surrounding the situation.
At the end of the day, your team knows your value!
Connect with Culture Works HR today to learn more about our philosophies on company culture! And for those who just made a mistake at work and want to feel better, read this article that details the worst mergers of all time.