As a proud Penn State alumna, the scandal and recent sanctions have made the past couple of months rough. But I won’t start to rant on whether or not Joe Paterno should have done more, if his statue should have been torn down, if the library should be renamed, or any other arguments I frequently face now. I will however, take just one lesson that can be learned from this situation and focus on how we can incorporate this into our acts at the workplace.
Whether you are the “face” of Penn State or a summer intern on a coffee run, mistakes will happen. We are all human and it is inevitable; as a Recruiter, I often coach those contracting for Profiles on how to properly address workplace mistakes. The bottom line: it is not necessarily what mistakes were made, but how you deal with them that count.
Since we cannot guarantee you can avoid a work blunder, here are 5 tips to consider how to mend the situation.
1) Admit you made the mistake
It is important to accept that no matter how experienced you are mistakes do happen. When you first realize you make a mistake, don’t panic and cover it up, address it. But as I mentioned, it is how you deal with these mistakes that really matter and shows character. Don’t blame others for your mistakes as you may lose the loyalty and respect of your team. While success in the workplace is mostly measured by how well you do your job, how you handle failure can also set you apart from the rest.
2) Tell your boss or team what and how it happened
If a mistake does happen, you have to take ownership from the beginning. Owning up to it right away gives you the chance to speak to it before someone else does and you are put on the spot. Bosses do not like surprises, so if you know there are consequences to your mistake, spell out what happened, and do not cover it up. Sometimes the mistake part is not what the boss or team will dwell on, but mostly how she or he was told, and how you intend to fix it.
Never apologize by email to avoid getting yelled at. If your relationship has been through speaking in person, and then you apologize by email, it shows you are embarrassed and cannot handle the consequences. Emails cannot convey the emotions you may try to express when on the phone or in person.
3) Present how you will fix it
You made the mistake, there is no turning back, but now turn this negative into a positive and use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet. When you own up to your error, simultaneously propose a solution to show that you have thought this through and have a plan of correction. This may ease the pain and show that you are a problem-solver with confidence to make things right.
4) Correct your mistake on your own
If you make a mistake, correct it on your own time, even if that means working late or working through lunch. Never let others suffer through fixing your problem. This will help build the relationships with your team mates in this situation, rather than hurting the team dynamic and trust.
Perhaps one aspect of a solution is to pursue additional training and build up your natural skillset. For example, Profiles offers free Lynda.com training to all individuals contracting for our clients. See what opportunities exist to boost your own professional toolbox.
5) Don’t dwell on the past, learn from it
Now learn from your mistake; don’t beat yourself up over it. Do all you can to fix it and make it right, and then move on. If you dwell on your past mistakes, you are likely to repeat them; rather, focus on what you want to achieve and build self-confidence. You can now plan ahead to avoid the same mistakes.
Mistakes are going to unfortunately happen in the workplace, but if you approach them as an opportunity and not a defeat, you will see positive responses from both your peers and superiors. Take this lesson from the Penn State crisis, and learn to use these tips to handle mistakes appropriately.
“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”
Profiles is a unique staffing firm specializing in Marketing employment, Creative, and Web & IT jobs. Since 1998, we have served the needs of our Clients and Talent by matching the best candidates with the best companies in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Author Name – Marissa Nagy
Title – Recruiter
Location – Baltimore, MD
Twitter – @MarissaNagy
Byline – Marissa joined the team as a Recruiter in the beginning of 2012, bringing with her experience in advertising and sales, and enjoys learning new trends about the industry. Originally from Pennsylvania, she’s excited to travel and explore her new city of Baltimore.