Why Is It Important to OWN Your Mistakes?


The answer is simple. If you don’t own your mistakes and hope no one notices, you will sabotage your career now and in the future.

A new fast-track manager wanted to make a positive impression with his team. So, when he made a major mistake on a financial projection for a new product, he didn’t say anything to anyone. Since no one said anything that day or in the days that followed, he believed the mistake must not have been that bad. He breathed a sigh of relief at the end of his workweek on his drive home.

However, his teammates did notice, attempted to fix the problem, and told his boss. Then, the product failed. What’s worse, the boss waited six months before bringing up the mistake and focused on it during the manager’s performance review. The boss reviewed the mistake, impact, and costs. But, by then, it was too late to fix the mistake and trust had been already broken. The new fast-track manager’s career was sidelined because he didn’t own his mistake.

The 5 Critical Ways to Handle and Own Your Mistakes

  1. Take responsibility and acknowledge your mistake as soon as possible. Don’t make the mistake worse by minimizing the error or diminishing the impact on others.
  2. Apologize directly and immediately to the people affected, including the boss. Talk straight and don’t pretend it shouldn’t matter to anyone. Your purpose in sharing your mistake is to protect the boss, company, and co-workers from the known and unknown costs.
  3. Factually share what happened and create a practical solution for win-win outcomes. Again, talk straight. Be responsible for taking additional training, pay closer attention to details, or improve your interactions with others. Hiring an executive coach is also a good way to learn how to own and handle your mistakes in the future.
  4. Ask if the solution works for everyone before and after the mistake has been fixed. You made the mistake so don’t make it worse by thinking you know what needs to be done to fix it so others are satisfied. Ask for their input and incorporate their recommendations as needed.
  5. Where appropriate, share your mistake for training purposes with team members. This is perhaps one of the most critical to own and handle mistakes. Be authentic. We all make mistakes. It’s how you handle them that inspires others and helps them avoid making the same mistakes.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2019

Jeannette Seibly is an award-winning champion for people and results. For the past 27 years, she has guided bosses and teams to excel. Do you need to improve how you communicate with your team and produce unprecedented results?  Contact Jeannette today for straight talk with dynamic results.


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