Handling Mistakes & Failure in the Workplace

No matter your experience or position, failure is an inevitable obstacle we all have to tackle in our professional lives. Everyone faces mistakes and setbacks in the workplace. And these moments, which often result in frustration or negative feelings, can also serve as learning experiences. More often than not, it’s not the failure we’re afraid of, but rather the consequences. But if we take the necessary steps to embrace and take responsibilities for our mistakes, our failures can lead to success and growth.

How to handle failure at work

Take responsibility

From the jump, the first step is to not only to acknowledge your mistake, but also to accept responsibility. This transparency will help to embrace communication across your team and remind each other that mistakes are okay. It can also be an opportunity to realize that you don’t have to make the same mistake twice. If you’re able, take notes on what you did wrong and make conscious efforts to adjust your actions the next time around.

Use relevant coping skills

Indeed advises, “Consider adopting coping mechanisms, like deep breathing exercises, talking with friends, or spending time with your family members and pets to help you reduce anxiety and stress. Reducing stress and surrounding yourself with a support system can help you change your outlook and motivate you to try again with new structures and techniques.” Remind yourself that you are not defined by your failures, and that everyone, regardless of their title at your company, has made plenty of mistakes.

Consider training, learning, & mentorship opportunities

If you’re nervous that you might make the same mistake again, consider reaching out to your manager, or even other team members, for learning opportunities. There might be trainings or workshops you can engage in that will promote change and progress moving forward. Sometimes, even just questions and conversations with those who have a bit more experience can help you grow and adapt.

Adapt and move on

Once you’ve made the efforts to acknowledge your mistakes, figure out how to change them, and reflected on the experience it’s time to adapt to the new circumstances and move on. Be open to change, while also focusing on your own personal goals. Success stems from trial and errors, so be sure to test new strategies and gain new perspectives along the way.

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