7 Things You Shouldn’t Do When You Make a Mistake at Work

The mistake has happened, no matter how intensely you glare at your screen/spreadsheet/email. Unless you have a time-turner handy, there’s nothing you can do to fix it, except by adult-ing. Here are seven things you should absolutely not do when you make a mistake at work.


Do not try to cover it up


Whether it’s a little or big mistake, someone is bound to find out and that will make you look, at best, unprofessional and at worst, irresponsible and insincere.

Suck in the fresh morning air, channel your inner bull, and face the wrath of your boss head on. His angry-red dragon-like neck is only going to grow bigger every day you wait.


Do not try to fix it yourself


Unless you’re one thousand per cent positive you can fix the problem by yourself (and even then, I would run it past the boss-man first), don’t even think about exacerbating a bad situation.

Step away from the keyboard.


Do not come without an apology and explanation


Say you’re very sorry once, sincerely. You’ll waste everyone’s time by bubbling apologies for the rest of the week, not to mention being an annoying little bugger.

Instead, come to your boss (or whoever it relates to) with a thorough understanding of what you did wrong and how to prevent the same mistake from happening in the future. This is far more valuable than repeating apologies like a broken robot.


Do not come without a solution (if possible)


Some solutions will be out of your hands, but if you are dealing with a particular client or if you have an innovative, smart way to fix the problem you’ve created, go to your boss with your solution.

It shows that you’re willing to actively take responsibility for your mistakes and you need all the brownie points you can get at this point.


Do not point your finger at others


If the fault should be shared equally between you and others, don’t hesitate to mention it. But revise what you’re going to say in your head and aim for neutral, diplomatic explanations which don’t sound like you’re trying to shift the blame.

If the mistake is wholly your fault, do not (under any ANY circumstances) blame other workers.


Do not get too depressed about your mistake


It’s natural to let yourself be uncomfortable (you’ll live) about your mistakes, but don’t get caught up in exaggerating your failure in your head.

Making errors is a part of growing in your career. Think of it as an opportunity to learn instead of the possibility of being fired. I’m kidding.


Do not pretend like nothing happened


Depending on the extent of your mistake, you can’t move on pretending like nothing happened.

You’ll likely be under a certain amount of scrutiny over the next few weeks, so it doesn’t hurt to arrive in the office a little early or take up a few extra tasks to show off your abilities as an employee.