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How to recover from mistakes at work

Blog 27 09 (800 X500)

Matt Darvill Blog, Work, Work Life...

Mistakes happen to all of us. Some can be as small as forgetting an attachment on an email, or perhaps it was a bigger error, that damaged the company’s reputation. Whatever the circumstances or severity of the issue, ensure that you remain calm and take a deep breath before reacting. You can recover from any error, and even develop a positive reputation for honesty and problem-solving at the same time.

Allow yourself time to feel bad about it

The natural initial reaction is to feel bad about the situation, and the error you made. This shouldn’t last long at all, as it’s important to recover and bounce back quickly. The important thing is to be honest and own up to it. Trying to cover up, or denying responsibility, will only make the situation worse. If you need a quick break or short walk to help clear your mind, do so, and allow yourself to refocus.


Ensure you quickly make the affected party aware of the issue, and take ownership of the mistake, and apologise for it. This will lessen the blow of the error to those concerned, as it is brought to their attention in a sincere way. Don’t put excuses or try to justify your mistake in the apology, as this will only make things worse and could come across as evasive. Simply explain that an error has been made and that you are taking the necessary steps to correct the issue as quickly as possible.

Evaluate the resolution

The mistake can appear far worse than it really is, ensure you move past the result of it quickly to establish what can be done to solve it. Will it help to work some extra hours, or do you know someone who can advise the best resolution? Or is it something that can be resolved simply by yourself. Make a quick plan to resolve the issue.

What was the cause?

There are loads of reasons why things can go wrong. It could be the result of pressure, doing too many things at once, or even fatigue. Try to pinpoint what might be the underlying cause, particularly if this is really out of character.

It might be a case that you need to help yourself, potentially by prioritising more bluntly to ease your workload. Many people in the workplace are sleep deprived; and this can have an impact with concentration, attention and reasoning, all critical factors in not making mistakes. Ensure you’re doing everything possible to minimise the risk of making errors.