Make things right

Resolve mistakes with these measures to get yourself or your company out of a quandary

Make things right

Making mistakes are common at the workplace. It is how you handle the situation that makes a difference.

Here are tips on how to turn a bad situation into a good one:

If you made a mistake
Be honest

After making a mistake, the most important thing is to be proactive. Your manager may find it disappointing if you do not show a genuine willingness to make amendments and apply the experience to similar situations in the future.

Be open and honest with your mistake. Speak to your manager and outline what happened and its ramifications. Do not try to hide any aspects from him. A good manager will support you but he cannot defend you if the full extent of the issue is not known.

While it may be hard at the time, try and see the mistake as an opportunity. Mistakes can provide powerful learning experiences which go a long way towards developing your career.

Make a recommendation on how to salvage the situation or reduce the impact. Write a report outlining the event and what you can do to prevent it after the dust has settled.

Be objective

Start with a clear objective in mind. List down the actions that led to the mistake. Gather feedback from relevant managers and team members on what you could have done better and what they would have done in your situation.

Identify other workplace issues or pressures that could have caused the mistake. Assess whether your current job responsibilities suit your strengths.

If you are dealing with a repeated mistake, you need to acknowledge your shortcomings. Be honest with yourself.

Ask for a performance review

Your next step should be to conduct a thorough performance review with your manager. An open, two-way dialogue is essential to turning around performance issues fairly and effectively.

Going through the job description in detail together and identifying the loopholes are effective and painless ways to do this.

The worst thing to do is to shift the blame. Accept responsibility for your actions. You will receive more respect from your manager and peers if you come forward and admit your mistake.

The mistake made is an opportunity for open discussions with your manager as well as to raise issues about your place in the company and the challenges you face.

The ultimate goal should be to agree upon any desired changes and to develop a set of key performance objectives that is reviewed periodically.

Document the review

Record the plan in detail and make copies for both parties. Remember to include the timing for your next review. Work out a plan together to ensure that objectives and responsibilities are clearly outlined and understood.

If a teammate made a mistake

Assess what needs to be done

If necessary, make changes to your team member's working arrangements, restructure his job position and provide access to a mentoring or executive coaching programme.

As a manager, while it is important to educate the team member on how he could have avoided making the mistake, do not allow emotions or your feelings to show. Your staff is undoubtedly feeling upset about the situation and raising your voice or showing your exasperation is not constructive.

Do not ignore the problem

Do not disregard any mistakes. This creates a culture that underachievement is acceptable. Team members, management and underperformers stand to lose in this situation.

Bringing an errant staff member back to his full potential and boosting his confidence will build your credibility and command respect from others.

Everyone wants to have a manager who "takes action" rather than one who waits for the problems to go away. You will also not lose the valuable experience of the employee or be forced into a prolonged and costly recruitment process.

This sends the message that you are willing to invest in your staff rather than letting them go in difficult times.

Learn to move on

A manager can do everything to help but, ultimately, resolving a mistake is in the hands of the person who made it.

If you were responsible for the mistake, make a commitment towards making essential changes.

This means accepting suggestions for change and initiating ideas for improvements. Possible options could be to participate in professional courses or programmes and write down a self-improvement plan.

For instance, executive coaching is an avenue that is fast gaining popularity. Executive coaches analyse your ability and strengths and work closely to keep your career in shape. They also help unlock your potential, talents and energy on achieving important goals.

Mistakes are part of your learning process. The right attitude and response can bring you into a positive direction.

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