Although we all try to avoid making mistakes whenever possible, it is important to accept that they are bound to happen eventually. In the best interests of your business, embrace your mistakes as learning experiences and build on what you’ve learned to move forward. The following is a list of ways that you can build on your mistakes to minimize damage and prevent them from happening again.
- Accept full responsibility for your mistakes. It may be tempting to play the blame game and make someone else the scapegoat. Aside from creating tension in the workplace, it also keeps you from recognizing the real problem. Every aspect of your business falls back on you, so demonstrate strong leadership by holding yourself accountable for your mistakes. You will be setting a good example for your employees, and everyone involved in your business will respect you more for taking control.
- Work as a team to fix the problem. Act quickly to gather the appropriate people who can help rectify the problem caused by a mistake. For example, if a marketing flier with incorrect information has been distributed to customers, choose the people who are best equipped to handle the problem right away. Delegate someone to create a new flier with accurate information, someone else to contact clients about the error, and yet another person to make arrangements with the printer to deliver the new order as quickly as possible. Always demonstrate a professional demeanor even in the most stressful of situations, and show your team that working together is the best way to move forward.
- Implement a process to deal with mistakes and ways to learn from them. How you handle mistakes will of course vary depending on the situation. However, you should absolutely have some kind of support system in place, especially if you find yourself in unchartered territory. Support groups, mentors, or even informal advisors can provide you with guidance you may need to not only deal with the mistake at hand, but also to learn from it. Think of your support system as a disaster preparedness kit. You hope that you will never need it, but if you do, it will be a lifesaver.
- Share your mistake with others. It is human nature to want to cover up our mistakes so others don’t see our weaknesses. This is counterproductive, as it enables you to avoid getting to the root of the problem and gaining new wisdom from it. First, own up to it using first-person statements like, “I neglected to approve the final draft that contained inaccurate information.” Second, talk about it with people you trust, even those who are not involved in business at all. Venting to a confidante will make you feel better and help you identify where you may have gone wrong. Third, listen to the advice of others. You will benefit from getting advice from a variety of perspectives. Talking it out with others will maximize your learning.
When dealing with mistakes, keep your cool, take responsibility, act quickly, and reflect on the problem by talking it out with others. You won’t be able to avoid every possible misstep, but you will certainly take away a newfound wisdom that allows you to move your business forward. How do you build on your mistakes? Please share your ideas below!