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Workplace Diaries: How to Recover from a Mistake

Posted 2/27/2019

When mistakes occur in the workplace you feel as if your career is over. Shame, doubt and anxiety begin to creep into your psyche and suddenly you become overwhelmed with fear and unsure of what to do next. When facing a mistake in the workplace the best course of action is to recover as soon as possible. Remember falling as a child while learning to ride your bicycle. Your parents would give you a “once over” to ensure no bones were broken, dust you off and say, “get up and try it again”. Much like getting back on that bicycle, the recovery period from a mistake at work should be immediate and planned carefully. The recovery plan will help you examine the situation and develop strategies to move forward with minimal damage to your career. Listed below are the 5 components of a recovery plan.

  1. Reflection- Take some time to think about the incident to identify the how, what and why did it happened. Were you negligent? What would you do differently? What did you learn from this incident?
  2. Take ownership- Taking ownership can be the first step in regaining the trust of the organization and your supervisor. It can also set a good example for your staff if you are a leader within your organization.
  3. Repair the mistake- After reflecting on what could have been done differently, work on implementing the strategy to repair the damage, if any.
  4. Moving forward-Create a list of strategies for moving forward in your career (e.g. initiate weekly one on ones with staff or supervisor, get to work earlier, take leadership or other training classes, etc.).
  5. Stop talking about the incident -After you have implemented your recovery plan (including meeting with your supervisor), do not have another conversation about the mistake as you are focused on forward movement. Continuing to revisit the mistake may derail your plan to move beyond the incident.

Always remember, it’s not about the mistake, but how you recover from it.

Until next week,

Dr. Kietra Winn, LCSW                                          


#gettingoverthehump #recoveryplan #bouncingback #tomorrowisanewday