How to Handle Mistakes in the Workplace

December 6, 2010

by Surjit Sen Sharma

We all know that to err is human, and none of us derive pleasure from committing errors. However, there are some, who allow their errors, or fear of making errors, immobilize their personal progress, and then there are some, who mull over past mistakes to the point of self-deprecation.

In fact, it is not uncommon to find people who use the instance of a mistake made long back in their past to explain away adverse situations caused in the present. Everybody has those long lists of ”if I had been,” or ”only if I had done” kind of regrets. The job is to rise over regrets and do what can be done now, and not waste time over what you can’t do anything about.

While such analyses linking past errors to present situations may all be true, none of us possesses the ability to travel back to the past and rectify them. So, it’s a waste of time thinking over past mistakes unless you use the experience to actively help you in the present.

And then, there are some of us who allow false egos to get the better of us and refuse to admit mistakes, though inside our minds, we recognize our actions quite clearly as mistakes. To make a mistake is part of ordinary circumstances and not outside the logic of a workplace or of life itself. However, to knowingly persist in a mistake just to save one’s self from embarrassment or loss of face is illogical to the extreme.

Rectifying mistakes is an art and the mark of experts and successful people. All employers know that there are going to be mistakes in the workplace, and even that they themselves will be part of wrong decisions. However, the man who is prized in the workplace is the one who does not get perturbed by finding mistakes, but immediately gets to work on finding solutions and putting them in place, to mitigate or remove the effects of such mistakes. Such people view the consequences of every mistake just as problems to be solved, and do not waste time or energy in attributing blame, because blame attribution is unconstructive and distinctly different from a crime investigation.

There are only two kinds of action an employee might commit in a workplace to disrupt the workflow. The first, and more common, is unintentional and thus a mistake, and the second is intentional, and thus a crime. We are discussing mistakes here and not crimes. However, it is important to understand and outline the difference, because also in the workplace, we find people who try to interpret unintentional actions as intentional and cast blame on people, trying to show them up in a negative light. Be wary of such persons, because every workplace has its share of such fools and they are the most unconstructive of the lot.

The morale of this article is that there is no logic in being downcast by the commission of mistakes, but the logical thing to do is to rectify and mitigate the consequences of mistakes as soon as possible, whether in life or in the workplace. And if certain situations prove to be irretrievable, then move forward in life without allowing you to be obsessed by regrets.

To read the article in it’s entirely, originally published in Hound,¬†please click here.

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