Oh *%@! You Messed Up! Now What?

By Kristina Schneider, Executive Assistant

We have all been there at some point in our lives, whether in the workplace, school, at home, anywhere.  You make a mistake of some kind.  It happens.  You’re human.  It’s bound to happen.  However, how to handle the mistake that you made is very different for a lot of people.  What might seem like common sense for some people, isn’t always for others.

Here are some tips for how to handle making a mistake.  The intention is for mistakes made in the workplace, but these tips can be used really anywhere in life.

STEP #1: Relax.

This one is definitely easier said than done.  Nobody likes to make mistakes or displease their boss.  And depending on the nature of the mistake, there may be some serious consequences to the mistake.  It might cost the business money or it might lose them potential business.  But, it’s important that you not freak out so that you can calmly find a reasonable solution to your mistake.  This brings us to…

STEP #2: Figure out a way to fix it.

It is one thing to make a mistake, but a better way to handle the mistake is to also figure out a way to fix it.  Finding a solution is one of the best ways to handle a mistake.  It doesn’t always resolve the problem entirely, but it takes away the sting a bit from the consequences of the mistake.  No boss wants someone that simply brings to them problems.  Particularly ones that are a result of your own mistake.  So, try and figure out a way to fix it before bringing it to your boss’ attention.

STEP #3: Take ownership.

As difficult as it may be, you have to take ownership of what was done.  You will only dig yourself into a much deeper hole if you try to hide or cover up your mistake, make excuses for it, or even blame others for your mistake.  If you make a mistake, it’s important that you try and bring it to your boss’ attention as soon as possible (keeping in mind, that having one or multiple potential solutions to fix the mistake to present to your boss at the same time is a key step before this one!).  Not taking ownership of your mistake or bringing it to your boss’ attention right away may result in a delay in rectifying the matter and then you may leave your boss with no other options.  Your boss may be upset or frustrated at first.  It’s a natural response.  Regardless of how upset he or she may be, they should always be professional in the way that they communicate their disappointment or frustration.  And again, having potential solutions will hopefully help breaking the news about the mistake.

STEP #4: Determine how this mistake happened.

Last, but not least, the most important step here out of all of these steps is to determine how the mistake happened in the first place.  As we said above, mistakes are bound to happen.  However, the most important part of making a mistake is taking away the lesson that is there and preventing it from happening again.  Most mistakes happen because of a breakdown in a system or a procedure. (And if there are no systems or procedures, that right there is a perfect indication of why mistakes are happening!).  So, reflecting on what happened and how and why the mistake was made in the first place is the only way to ensure that it doesn’t happen again (by you or others you work with).

In conclusion, I do realize that these tips might seem like obvious course of actions.  But, I think we have all seen at some point in the workplace or outside of the workplace, when someone fails to follow these steps.  I know I have.  So, the next time you (or a fellow coworker) makes a mistake, take the time to make sure you go through these steps.

I leave you with this quote to reflect on: “It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us.”


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kristina-aboutKristina Schneider is the current Executive Director of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc.  She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in 2004 and was hired right out of college to work for the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, coordinating and facilitating Philip Kavesh’s “Missing Link” Boot Camps while also providing administrative support to Mr. Kavesh as his Executive Assistant for over seven years.  Through her direct hands-on experience in Mr. Kavesh’s law firm, Kristina has been able to assist numerous estate planning professionals through The Ultimate Estate Planner and, equally as important, many of their staff members, in the successful implementation of Ultimate Estate Planner’s products and systems. You can reach Kristina at (424) 247-9495 or by e-mail at kristina@ultimateestateplanner.com.


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