5 Proven Ways to Recover from a Mistake at Work

Posted On: April 18, 2016

You've been there before: that moment when you realize that you’ve messed up at work. While it's easy to brush off minuscule mistakes that occur every day, it's a lot more difficult to deal with the aftermath of a large mishap in the office.

It's normal to feel distressed, overwhelmed, and even scared afterward—but it's also crucial to move on and overcome the fear of failure or rejection in the workplace. Here are five tips on how to recover from a mistake on the job:

  • Own up to your mistakes—and never underestimate the importance of an apology. According to the U.S. News and World Report, the first thing that you need to do is acknowledge and admit your mistake. Go directly to the person in charge, and let him or her know what happened. There's a fine line between explaining your mistake and making excuses for it. You are better off if you simply inform your boss and apologize for the situation.
  • Understand that there will likely be consequences. Inc.com notes that the best thing you can do is accept the consequences with a professional demeanor. Acting upset or disappointed because of the consequences will not bode well for your professional reputation. Owning your mistake and dealing with the consequences are all part of being an adult—and it's important to remember that in the workplace.
  • Don’t just communicate with your superiors and explain why the mistake happened—come up with a plan to prevent similar mishaps in the future! It's not surprising to feel the need to “lay low” for a while, but what matters most is making the extra effort to seek out feedback on your performance after a large mistake. This will show your boss that you care and that you understand the severity of the situation. It could actually improve your working relationship moving forward, as you learn how to communicate better with one another.
  • Don't feel like your mistake has to define you or your career. According to Fortune, the best thing you can do is accept the responsibility, deal with the consequences, and let it go. It's important to keep everything in perspective. Remember, everyone has had one horrifying moment like this at least once—if not more than once—in their careers.
  • Work extra hard to establish your credibility in the office again. You might be watched extra closely for a little while after your mistake, depending on the magnitude of the situation. Prove to your boss that you are willing to go the extra mile in order to improve your performance and your professional reputation. Stay late if you need to, put in extra effort with every project you take on, and take further training if necessary.

When you handle your mistake properly, you won't feel as stressed or anxious about it. There's no need to spend endless hours awake at night, worrying about what the consequences will be. By taking action and working hard to address the issue, you will feel better—and your managers will take notice.

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