A Playbook for Newbies
When we make a mistake at work, it’s common for us to feel anxious or stressed about how our colleagues or clients will react, and in some cases, what sort of consequences might follow. This can be even more stressful as we all work from home because we can’t speak with our colleagues directly about what happened. However, by following a few simple steps, you can handle your mistake with ease, learn from what happened, and bounce back in a way that will help ensure you avoid making the same mistake in the future:
Own It Right Away – Regardless of the error, the only way to begin to fix the problem is to own it. If it should have to do with client work, and it impacts the client directly, work with your supervisor on a plan to reach out to the client directly. Avoid excuses, which can sound an awful lot like reasons to you, and review the facts. Your colleagues and/or clients may not be very happy with you when you initially tell them, but in the long run they will show you more respect if they see you are taking the initiative to fix it. For example, perhaps you sent out a press release prematurely or without confirming with the client first. Rather than desperately trying to recall your email or tell the person/persons you sent it to not to open it, reach out to your client and tell them what happened. Communication is even more important right now since most of us are not in the office, and honesty is always the best policy.
Provide the Solution – This may seem obvious, but when you reach out to your client, come prepared with a solution to fix or begin to address the mistake, rather than simply flagging to them that it happened. A plausible solution shows your client that you are already thinking about overcoming this, and usually what makes or breaks the outcome of the situation. As PR professionals, we are meant to be an extension of the client and their trusted partner, so already having a solution to fix the error is paramount.
Learn and Improve – They say failure isn’t about falling down, but rather how we get back up, and the same is true for making mistakes in the office or when working from home. To move forward, think about what led to your mistake and if applicable, change your habits, processes, or anything else you need to so that you are confident that it won’t happen again. If you need help, try connecting with your manager or trusted mentor to chat through what happened and get a second perspective. Ultimately, you won’t be able to change what already happened, but you can learn from it and ensure you don’t make the same mistake again.
Don’t Dwell – We all beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, but we can’t dwell on them forever. Instead of stressing yourself out or doubting your competence remember that mistakes happen, and this is something you can learn from.
Once you’ve followed the steps above, the last thing to do is simply move forward. At this point you’ve apologized and owned up to your mistake, provided a solution to fix it, analyzed where you went wrong, and taken steps to help you prevent it from happening again. Now, you owe it to yourself and to your clients to put it behind you and not let your day-to-day performance be impacted by one error.