Making mistakes helps your career development

Posted on Posted in 2016 Business Opportunities For You, What's Trending Now


We all make mistakes, pretty much every day in pretty much every aspect of our lives. And it’s no big deal – it’s the way we’re made because we’re “human” and we’re imperfect, and everyone understands that. That is, they understand it unless it’s affecting them personally, at which point objectivity is all too often lost.

And as you go through the different stages of your career, one of the most critical things you’re going to have to learn is how to handle that loss of objectivity in others when YOU make a mistake. Handle it poorly and you’ll slow your career down, handle it well and more often than not what started out as a negative against you can become a big plus point in your favor.

Here are three things you need to think about doing when you make a mistake, big or small.


1. Own the mistake
If the fault is yours, or mostly yours, don’t even think about doing anything less than saying it was you. Don’t try and drag in any mitigating factors and certainly don’t try and spread the blame onto other individuals even a little bit. You’re the one who has to carry the can, and rightly so.

With this in mind, tell whoever needs to be told that you got it wrong, this is why you got it wrong, this is what you’re going to do to recover the situation and this is how you’re going to stop it happening again.

What you’ll find is (a) you’ll feel good about having stepped up (b) people – whether you know it or not – will admire your honesty and your not dragging in others and (c) people will see someone who is confident enough to admit mistakes and able to rectify them, both things that they can respect.


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2. Provide the solution
In most people’s experience, mistakes at work often involve a number of people, and many times you’ll find yourself as one of several who’ve contributed to a situation going wrong.

In these circumstances, you should own the problem for that part of the mistake which is yours. And as much as possible, you don’t drag others in by name wherever possible.

But most importantly, in these types of “inter-disciplinary” mistakes, be the one who is the catalyst for developing a solution. Get the right people together in the room to address the situation, or make sure that the right people are got together in the room. Be the one who calls in for some advice from a more friendly senior management mentor. Be the one who thinks of a new idea or resource that can help the solution be developed.

You don’t, however, need to be the most senior person in the group developing the solution, you don’t need to be the project leader and you don’t need to be the one who’s seen delivering the solution. It’s nice if one or more of these is the case but often it won’t work out that way.

It may take a lot of patience and trust on your part but, even if credit goes to where it isn’t due, a lot of people are going to notice your behaviors – your owning of the problem, your not throwing other people under the bus and your being the person who got people back off of the defensive and onto finding an answer.

People who behave like this get noticed – with approval – at higher and higher levels as they consistently behave in this way.


3. What do you do when other people’s mistakes affect you?
Even at the very early stages of your career, you’ll find yourself being affected by mistakes that other people have made. How you respond to these situations can be every bit as important as how you manage your own mistakes.

Approach the situation in the way in which you’d like to have someone approach it if it were your error. Also, keep away from blame and retribution and turn it into “what can we learn from this”.

Consistently doing these over time will make you:
a. become a more effective worker, team-member and leader
b. find a great deal of personal satisfaction from doing things the right way.
c. enhance your career prospects.


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