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  • Making Mistakes at Work

    “Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.” Bruce Lee

    We are all human. So we make mistakes as that is part of being human. So it is inevitable that you have made, are still making, and will make mistakes at work.

    Should you admit it? Should you cover it up? What should you do to recover?

    What do you do if your boss makes a mistake and won't admit it? What do you do if a colleague makes a mistake and blames others? What do you do if a subordinate keeps making the same mistakes?

    What do you do?
    Last edited by Skye; 07-31-2020, 01:13 AM.

  • #2
    Yes, we are human and mistakes will happen. It's in our nature. The vital aspect is owning up to the mistake, taking note of them and improving to reduce them in the future. Admitting errors wins trust and creates a positive out of a negative. Covering up can get a person only so far.
    Last edited by sammie83; 07-30-2020, 01:41 PM.

    Comment


    • mjmnl
      mjmnl commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree. Mistakes are part of our system as humans. Even though we are doing our best to avoid making mistakes, it's just inevitable. It is better to admit it than covering it up. When you admit it, you get to know what your mistakes are and with the help of your supervisor, you'll also know how to do deal with it in the future. As long as we learn from these mistakes, do best on the next tasks, and move on, we are good to go.

  • #3
    Agree, 100%. We are only human and we do make mistakes. Problem is, some people just don't know or do not want to acknowledge their mistakes. They even point their finger to others just to make it look like it was not their doing. In some cases, people are just full of pride that they make the littlest mistake into a huge deal. These kinds of people are toxic. But it's best not to entertain them. They are just a waste of time. They wouldn't listen anyway and even take it against you. (smh)😒😒😒

    Comment


    • #4
      I generally just own the mistake right away because stalling it with defense mechanisms just impedes potential improvement. My main problem, however, is how harsh I brood on any mistake I make. If someone else does, though, because I'm used to being harsh to myself, I personally tell them in a sandwich method way or I don't, especially if in my assessment, they'd dodge, rationalize, guilt trip or get hostile. Most times, I realize, the popular choice in the mistakes crossroads would be denial and defensiveness, when in truth, just taking it in then doing something about it saves more energy for what it's worth.

      I'm generally known for spotting errors or flaws in statements, or patterns, why I'm used to people taking what I say personally. I actually find it sad that it would be taken in that means when it's a reason or cue for them to even grow more and improve -- compared to me just letting them by, not calling them out privately for a mistake I saw, wherein, while it doesn't change their emotions, they're bound to repeat it anyway.

      If someone is resistant though, amidst being repeatedly told so, I'd assume there's an inner chain that prevents learning or an innate stubbornness that opens the phenomenology further. At times I'd take it as a challenge to teach the unteachable, but these days, I've become a believer of hard-way learning. lol

      Comment


      • Skye
        Skye commented
        Editing a comment
        @jcoppi, reading some of your posts here in this forum. And thank you for clarifying that statement on hard way of learning. I just was not sure if I was interpreting it right.

        The hard way of learning, followed by I-told-you-so. Been there. Done that. Both the learning and the told you so's. As a receiver and as a giver.

        I know this is off tangent, but sometimes, I get into trouble just because I really want to know. I want to experience things firsthand. Normally I am just happy sitting quietly inside my big box of what I should do and what I shouldn't. Then the mood strikes me (quite often of late), to test boundaries. See where this would go if I did this, if I did that. Test boundaries, not go beyond them. But still, my actions are oftentimes construed as mistakes, not innovation.

        Yet, I am happy. Because I have satisfied my curiosity. Even if I do get those I told you so's. Even if I get reprimanded.

      • jcoppi29
        jcoppi29 commented
        Editing a comment
        @skye

        actually, I'd agree. Sometimes, even if we know that a lot of people warn us about a possible potential mistake, there's a different sense of wonder and excitement in learning from an experience first hand. It's like the thrill of experimentation, after all, if the people that probably warned us about something didn't learn it from hard experience either, there's no sure hit validity to back their warnings up.

        Occassional experiences of the hard-way learning path is fun. I guess, it's much better to just have that balance of chaos and order. Enough order to have structure and enough chaos to avoid the monotonic, in the box feeling.

      • Skye
        Skye commented
        Editing a comment
        You got me there. These days, I am really just trying to break the monotony. It's like I am in a rut. But really, just trying to get out of this choke hold that these restrictions have on me right now.

        And true, sometimes those who warned were just warned as well by their mentors or colleagues. Hmmmmm... so what boundaries should I test today?

    • #5
      Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. The important thing is you own up to it and learn from it. I usually double my effort so I wont have to make the same mistake again. If I ever see/made a mistake, I'd talk to my superior immediately and give them a heads up. Better to do damage control early than cover it up. And if there's anything I can do to fix the damage, I'd do it.

      Comment


      • #6
        Interestingly I came across a very interesting article that read:

        Myth: Winners never quit and quitters never win.
        Fact: Winners quit ruthlessly.

        It is so well known to us already the cliche of an oversimplified myth wherein the truth is much more nuanced. The articles goes on to say that winners quit constantly. They quit frequently. They quit decisively and without regret.

        They (winners) make a rigorous assessment of the hard facts. If the long-term prospect is grim, they sever the strings. They don't get emotionally attached to sunk costs. They don't hang on in the hopes of "breaking even." They cut their losses and move on.

        They don't give up, winners quit so they can chase something more successful. They use their newly-found free time and money to re-invent and re-focus.

        Source: Affordanything.com

        Comment


        • jcoppi29
          jcoppi29 commented
          Editing a comment
          This is kinda related to the difference between willingness and willfulness. Being ruthlessly willful means deluding oneself with persistence thinking with enough of that, some realistic walls can be broken. Being willing, however, is having the guts to accept one's limits and investing elsewhere. Considering the variability in potential, not all walls can be broken and there's always someone else that can break a type of wall compared to others. Knowing when to quit and try something elsewhere is a better investment, indeed, than forcefully breaching a wall one isn't made to go through.

      • #7
        Mistakes are inevitable, especially when you're new with your job. Previous companies I've worked for has policies in place for this like:

        First offence: Verbal warning.
        Second offence: Written warning.
        Third offence: Second written warning.
        Fourth offence: Suspension.
        And so on.

        These violations stay on your record for a few months, which will also help track your progress. These are also used when assessing your performance.

        The best thing to do is to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from it. It's not enough to apologise and say you'll do better moving forward, you really have to prove that you are better. This does not mean that you cannot make mistakes again, just that you shouldn't make the same mistakes over and over.

        Comment


        • Bjun
          Bjun commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree. There should be a policy about making mistakes at work so we are more careful with our jobs. If there are no consequences for our mistakes, then there really is no push to do better next time. We can just apologise and do the same mistake over and over. It's only our co-workers and company that suffer from the mistakes that we keep on doing.

        • Skye
          Skye commented
          Editing a comment
          But before this policy on warnings and suspensions (disciplinary actions), there should be a clear cut set of work expectations or outcome. There should also be regular monitoring, coaching and feedback so that adjustments and corrections are made before a major mistake is committed or before bad behavior becomes a habit.

        • Bjun
          Bjun commented
          Editing a comment
          Skye I guess it would mean a lot of discussion before imposing these policies, especially on small companies that do not have policies like this in place yet. When I was working in corporate, these policies were already in place and we were made aware of them during the training period.

          The challenge for smaller companies is that the employees may be closer to each other compared to big companies. They may see and treat each other more like friends than colleagues, which means that some mistakes may be overlooked. Imposing policies like these may also be difficult if there is no designated person to monitor ones progress. In a smaller company, you just do your job and you only notice mistakes done by others when it directly affects your work.

      • #8
        I agree with Skye on the necessity of clear and precise work expectations. Mistakes are inevitable and half of the time mistakes are born from the collectively failing behaviors leading to the failure. Systems fail because people fail..naturally too. Why punish the mistake? Of course, a thorough examination should first determine the cause of the 'mistake'.

        Comment


        • Skye
          Skye commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, work expectations should be set. But mistakes should be corrected, not necessarily punished. Do not get me wrong, JerryYan. I am all for disciplining people.

          If the person who makes mistakes just keeps doing the same mistakes over and over again, there is something wrong. Wrong with the person. Wrong with the system.

          If they are simple mistakes on processes, you can chuck it to carelessness or current stress levels. Still not an excuse though. But if this keeps happening over and over again, probably there is something with that person's attitude towards work.

          If the mistakes affect the work of the people around him/her, then the person committing the mistake should be made aware of it and mistakes should be corrected. However, if that person does not see that he/she is doing something wrong, well, I'll leave you to think about that.

          I say there is something wrong with the system, because such repeated behavior/mistake only continues if there is no corrective action. The company may have a policy on how to do things, but if there is no disciplinary action for correcting errors, then how can corrections be enforced? There should be a bite to the law. It cannot always be positive reinforcement. You need to balance it with the negative.
          Last edited by Skye; 08-13-2020, 11:29 PM.

        • Indelible_Mark
          Indelible_Mark commented
          Editing a comment
          Skye sounds confused..I can't seem to connect 'there should be bite to the law' and the 'need to balance it (the positive reinforcement) with the negative'. Which one should it be? a nip versus a nibble, versus a huge rip?

          While I can consider the view that attitude leads to errors in judgement, depending on the task, a mistake is no longer a 'mistake' if it 'happens again and again'. This is why there is the practice of the widely-accepted 'due process'.

          Let's also always consider that detection and admission are separate events -the former is process-related while the latter is attitude related. Because these are separate there is a need for rules..rules that are dispassionate, impersonal, even downright cruel like 'zero tolerance' policies.

          So yeah..why not..impose corrective actions to ease our collective feelings of being right (perhaps pretend that we are collectively omniscient too!)..but keep in mind that for corrective action to be effective it should always, always, -never sometimes..nope- always 'build' the person behind the action/s deemed to be 'mistakes'. Call it positive reinforcement or what not.. a mistake once committed, twice repeated, thrice perhaps..was never made right by another wrong.

          yep..pretty serious ain't it.
          Last edited by Indelible_Mark; 08-20-2020, 01:04 PM.

        • Skye
          Skye commented
          Editing a comment
          Lemme clarify.

          Rewards and punishment. In the way we reward good action, we should punish bad ones. Goal of both is to achieve a certain behavior.

          Yes to corrective action. There should be a disciplinary component- a progressive disciplinary process. That is what I meant by bite to the law. Because it is needed to make everyone follow a process, protocol or policy. Especially for those who make the same mistakes over and over again.

      • #9
        I agree that clear-cut policies and expectations should be set before "punishments" can be given. Mistakes are not necessarily sanctioned just because. There are repercussions to mistakes and if you are in a company with set rules and regulations and you do not follow them, then something must be done about it. Rules and regulations are created so all employees can work in harmony and efficiently. If one is not given sanctions for such behaviors, how will the person change? Will the person involved ever acknowledge or realize that she/she is doing something that is against company policy? If all the other employees are able to abide by the rules, why can't he/she? Something is wrong, right?

        Having sanctions in place makes you focus better on your job and be mindful of your work as Kamille has mentioned. That is why knowledge-base is important. This is where all employees can check and look-up topics, issues, policies, and regulations of the company so everyone is on the same page. When one makes a mistake, you can easily point them to your company's knowledge-base to refresh his/her memory and hopefully keep it in mind moving forward.

        Comment


        • #10
          What do you do if your boss makes a mistake and won't admit it? What do you do if a colleague makes a mistake and blames others? Been there too. I guess we all have. Recent experience tells me to just always cover my bases, and to not trust that person.

          Comment


          • JerryYan
            JerryYan commented
            Editing a comment
            Bosses are no different from subordinates whether they admit their mistakes or not. The impact of their denials however is entirely different in scale..when bosses do not admit their mistakes the business takes a turn for the worse bringing with it misery for all its stakeholders..starting with crumbling trust.

            We all know what happens when trust is broken...

          • kdy
            kdy commented
            Editing a comment
            I very much agree to this.

            I used to handle a team, and I make sure that each of my direct reports understand how important it is that they are able to point out to me if I made a mistake, if I stepped on anyone's toes or what not; The same way I would to them if they made a mistake. It's a hard pill to swallow, but I would rather that it is my team who tells me I made a mistake, and be able to correct it. Not because I am matured, professional or what not, but who would I want to tell it to my face?

            As a leader though, I take accountability for my team's mistakes when reprimanded or asked by our superiors or upper management. At the end of the day, my team's behavior, performance or actions, are my responsibility as well. It is my job to coach them individually, ensure that they are taking proper actions when handling and dealing with the daily tasks and set them up for success.

            So yes, I'd say it again. I completely agree... It is entirely different in scale when the leader of the team does not know how to admit mistakes, and worse points fingers to subordinates.

          • Lou
            Lou commented
            Editing a comment
            I totally agree with you, kdy. A true leader does not pass the blame to his/her subordinates and takes accountability for the shortcomings of his/her team members.
            True enough, we don't need a boss, we need a leader. 😊😊😊

        • #11
          This article (https://work.chron.com/deal-person-b...lace-3820.html) could help if you are interacting with people who continue to blame others for their mistake.

          To summarize, these are the points:
          1. Listen to the blamer's side and try to confirm
          2. Be vigilant for people who talk negatively about others
          3. Don't engage with their negative comments
          4. Protect yourself

          kdy is right, it's always better to cover your bases and protect yourself from these people. Try to be as detailed and organized so that you'll be able to present proof whenever the needs arise.

          Comment


          • jcoppi29
            jcoppi29 commented
            Editing a comment
            The only other thing I'd probably add in that list is the weight of self-awareness. In my experience mediating between conflicts that get very polarized and divisive (glad I quit that field), the guiltier ones years later (when the dust has settled) are more often the ones that aggressively deny any misdeed in the situation, wash their hands and go virtue signaling and all and/or more aggressively points fingers and turns tables instead.

            So there's this weird, rather underrated pattern of table-turning. Most times, I side with whoever admits a fault than those getting rabid just turning the tables because of that pattern. In the first place, I don't see why anyone has to tell everyone that they didn't do anything wrong if they actually didn't do anything wrong.

          • Indelible_Mark
            Indelible_Mark commented
            Editing a comment
            I've seen the same behaviors jcoppi29 and sadly these are not entirely bad people..they probably just don't see themselves in less than the good light.

            That is a good read too mjmnl though I still wonder what 'protecting yourself' would entail...
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