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How to Recover from an Inevitable Mistake

Making mistakes is essential to self-improvement, and while it can be painful or embarrassing, it can also be used as a springboard to launch future success. 

The key to recovering from inevitable mistakes is not just to make careless mistakes or gloss over shortcomings, but to adopt a process of managing mistakes well. In a virtual world, without immediate access to ask questions or get necessary approval before executing, mistakes can be made more often, and it couldn’t be easier to hide behind a computer screen when one is made. Below, we share three tips for overcoming mistakes and excel virtually.  

 

Own the mistake: 

Own the mistake. As soon as a mistake is made, employees should make their managers and those it impacts aware of it. It may be tempting while working remotely to think it may go unnoticed, with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality; however, this is likely to be more detrimental long-term than helpful in the moment. Rather than pushing blame onto others or pretending it didn’t happen, owning the mistake and taking responsibility helps regain trust and respect quicker than pointing fingers.  

It’s still not enough to own up and move on. Consider what could have been done differently. When looking back on a serious mistake, don’t let shame or embarrassment impede figuring out exactly what went wrong. By dissecting what different choices could have been made, it’s possible to see where things went wrong. By owning the fault and consequences, it becomes easier to quickly make any needed corrections. 

Whenever possible, speak about mistakes face-to-face with management and those involved, whether that is in-person or over video chat. This can help minimize misunderstandings. Start by stating what has gone wrong, the potential consequences of the mistake, solutions for fixing the problem and how it can be avoided next time. Be sure to follow up regularly with leaders and teammates impacted to provide updates on how the situation is being resolved.  

 

Take initiative to share mistakes: 

Consider when it may be helpful to share openly about mistakes during team meetings or while talking one-on-one with teammates. Beyond just sharing what went wrong, discussing what was learned by the misstep can help others avoid making the same mistake. Use the discussion as a learning opportunity and a chance to collaborate with the team to come up with stronger, long-term solutions.  

Especially if remote, there is less opportunity to naturally learn from one another’s missteps sitting next to them. Breaking the communication barrier down to share what has happened and how to recover may encourage others to share, as well.  

 

Move on: 

The emotions associated with making a serious mistake are real and valid, and it is important not just to sweep them under the rug. However, don’t let it cause too much fear to try again. Keep egos at bay and don’t let one mistake or failed project derail progress and innovation. While a major mistake may impact or delay other tasks and projects, consider how to isolate it as much as possible and continue to make progress on other projects.  

Find effective strategies to shift emotions and mindset away from discouragement and back to motivation. Consider inspirational reads like Brianna Wiest’s “101 Essays to Change the Way You Think,” which shares strategies for reflecting on patterns of negative self-talk and overcoming limiting beliefs. Other ways to calm down include taking five minutes to step away from the task, listening to music, taking a short walk or drive, or calling a friend to help alleviate stress and build back confidence to begin fresh.  

There is a very big difference between lazy or careless mistakes, and those that come while trying something new or hustling to produce and accomplish goals. Mistakes will inevitably be made while working hard to innovate and advance a project, but it is often the lessons learned and how it is managed that can matter most.  

 

If it’s time for a new challenge and you’re looking for your next role, let us help. View our open positions here. 

 

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