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7 Actionable Steps to Control Damage After Making Mistakes at Work

No matter what your experience or expertise is, you're bound to make mistakes in the workplace. If it happens, accept it, take the right steps for dealing with mistakes at work and reduce the damage.

7 Actionable Steps to Control Damage After Making Mistakes at Work

“If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

~John Wooden

Sent a crucial email with errors? Added wrong figures in your presentation slides? Said something to your colleagues or clients that may have huge undesirable repercussions? Mistakes are not intentional but they’re also unavoidable. Making mistakes is inevitable, whether you’re in the office or working from home. Though it feels terrible, don't panic.

Making a mistake is a challenging situation we all face. It should be viewed as an opportunity to grow because there's a lot to learn from making mistakes at work. Owning your mistakes and taking the right steps to address them shows your professionalism. That approach improves your reputation and develops trust among your colleagues at the workplace. Let us share and elaborate on how you can manage mistakes effectively.

How to Prevent or Reduce the Chances of Making Mistakes

Mistakes at work are bound to happen, but you can take certain steps to prevent them from happening. Follow the suggestions mentioned below for avoiding mistakes at work, enhancing your productivity and yielding the best value for your time.

  1. Stop procrastinating

  2. Eliminate distractions

  3. Stop trying to multitask

  4. Use a task tracker or checklist

  5. Try automating your task workflows

  6. Always clarify and ask questions

  7. Carefully review your work

  8. Take breaks to refresh your mind

What to do After Making Mistakes at the Workplace?

There is no amount of experience and expertise that can guarantee error-free work every time. Mistakes may happen even after paying attention to details and following a streamlined approach in your work methodology. If you commit a mistake, you can take certain steps to reduce the damage.

Refer to the seven steps mentioned-below to understand what you should do after making mistakes at work.

  1. Don’t Blame Others and Take Responsibility

If any fault occurs at your workplace, there is a good chance your team members were also involved. It’s tough to own a mistake, but avoid putting your fingers on others. Avoid blaming coworkers or circumstances. Take responsibility for your own part of the mistake and apologise to the affected people. It shows your confidence in your abilities and commitment to fair practices.

2. Forgive Yourself for Mistakes at Work

Mistakes may make you feel nervous, embarrassed, worried or frustrated. You tend to think that mistakes will mitigate your reputation. It’s natural to think and experience like that but you need to shift your focus and energy to rectify the error. Take a few moments to acknowledge what happened and adopt a positive attitude towards the necessary repairs to make.

3. Find and Apply Solutions to Set Things Right

After reconciling yourself, it’s time to rectify any problems that resulted from the mistake. Analyse your mistake and keep looking for the reasons until you get to the root cause. Seek the right solutions and create a plan to set things right and undo the damage. If the ripple effect of your mistakes is out of your control, seek help from your coworkers and manager.

4. Learn and Gain Important Insights for Future

Mistakes at work are undesirable but they also offer an opportunity to improve your own processes, productivity and develop trust at the workplace. Mistakes often teach you something that you didn't know before or signify the necessary skills you are lacking that could have avoided them. By learning from your mistakes, you grow and become more resilient as a professional.

5. Get Back to Work or Move On

If a mistake happens, don’t dwell. Error and failures are going to happen in your professional life many times in many different forms. They are heartbreaking but you need to reconcile and get back in the field to achieve new heights of success. Take essential steps to beat the disappointment, rejuvenate yourself and move ahead with enthusiasm.

6. Modify Your Work Style to Prevent Mistakes

Take actionable steps for avoiding mistakes at work later on. Analyse what went wrong that caused the mistake and what you can do to address a similar challenge in the future conveniently. Adjust your work style, fill or upgrade it with the right skills that will help you reduce mistakes.

7. Commit to Growth and Make Fewer Mistakes

Get committed to constant improvement with an aim to make fewer mistakes at work. If you are committing time-related mistakes, learn and incorporate time management skills in your work style. If it is something related to communication like email, presentation and so on, sharpen your communication skills.

No one is immune to making mistakes. After making any mistake, control your emotions instead of getting nervous and creating further damage to yourself and your organisation. Focus on dealing with mistakes at work and take them as valuable learning opportunities. Once you acknowledge your mistakes and take the right steps afterwards, you emerge wiser and more empowered to achieve success.

Do you communicate smartly or need help to enhance your communication skills? Take the Free Communication Skills Assessment to take the first step to speak with confidence.

Smita D Jain is a Certified Life Coach, Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner. Smita’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Performance Enhancement Coaching Programs enable introverted executives to speak with confidence and communicate with impact so that they emerge leaders sooner than envisaged.

Prior to her journey as a coach, Smita had extensive experience of 14 years as a corporate and business strategy professional with Fortune 500 companies. She is also a TEDx speaker, a panellist cum speaker at various public forums, a published writer, and an Amazon bestselling author.

You can learn more about Personal Empowerment Life Coach and Executive Coach Smita D Jain’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Coaching Programs by visiting and book a strategy session at

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