Working Mother Magazine "So You Made a Mistake..."

When you mess up, focus on the fix. Whether missing a big deadline or mass emailing a confidential memo, everyone has messed up at work. Instead of dwelling on your error, focus on the fix and how to correct your blunder with these tips from Shawn Kent Hayashi, an executive coach in Center Valley, PA.

Fess up about the flub.
It can be hard to tattle on yourself, but pretending your mistake never happened is just that—another mistake. An email acknowledgment is fine if the issue was minor and you’ve resolved it. But if the faux pas is complex, approach your boss face- to-face or via phone and let him know right away.

Start with “I’m sorry.”
To keep the pink slip at bay, the immediate patch to the problem is to apologize. Your boss may be frustrated at first, but to err is human, and he should ultimately understand. Avoid detracting from your apology by minimizing your goof or placing the blame on someone or something else.

Work the solution.
Don’t guilt your boss into sympathy by being overly dramatic—offering to quit, constantly apologizing. Instead, follow up your humble mea culpa with a plan to solve the problem so he sees the goal line after your fumble. And make a point of letting him know what you’ll do differently next time.