NST Blog Lesson-Learned

Lesson Learned – Come Prepared with Solutions

Everybody makes mistakes … everybody has those days …

According to Harvard Business Review (and Hannah Montana) everybody makes mistakes – but they don’t have to be career limiting.

No matter your experience level, you’re going to make mistakes in the workplace. But despite the mistake and how it makes you feel about your performance, your colleague, boss or even your client isn’t going to remember the mistake over time – but they will remember your reaction and the steps you took to solve the problem. Transitioning mistakes into lessons learned is a valuable skill in the workplace and can allow you to improve your confidence and overall image as a working professional.

Initially, a mistake can be embarrassing and place doubt in your mind about your abilities. It might even bring your professional reputation into question, but no matter the size of the error, it’s important to display poise in your response because how you respond could shape your future with the company.

No matter what, you should refrain from:

  • Only apologizing without offering a solution or path forward
  • Covering it up
  • Making excuses
  • Diverting blame
  • Reacting too dramatically or too calmly

Despite how you may feel, try to keep things in perspective before responding. It’s much easier to resolve mistakes or provide solutions when you’re calm, cool and collected. If you need time to analyze the problem and determine possible solutions before addressing the problem on your own or providing a solution to your colleagues, boss or client – do that first. But don’t take too long, otherwise there could be repercussions.

One of the biggest things to remember when dealing with a mistake is honesty. When you’re providing more details about what happened, to whoever it may be, be upfront about the situation and provide a solution in a clear and concise manner. When you’re honest, it allows you to build trust.

Consider saying something along the lines of, “I’ve made this mistake and I’m looping you in to discuss. I am working to resolve this issue by …”

This response allows you to show your actionable steps to solve the issue, hold yourself accountable and allows others to see you as a resourceful individual who values their work and who they work for. Mistakes happen, but remember to take actionable steps to prevent the same ones from happening again in the future.

The next time a mistake happens, think of it as a lesson learned and provide solutions that keep your reputation intact.