How do you handle mistakes?


No matter how hard we try, nobody is going to be perfect all the time.

Mistakes are going to happen. They’re a part of business and life.

The important thing is the response to the mistake.   

How a manager deals with mistakes or setbacks says a great deal about what kind of a leader he or she is.

I have found that the more successful managers have a common trait. They do not defend mistakes or setbacks because then there will be no hope for improvement.

“Mistakes show us that we need improvement,” one fleet maintenance manager told me.  

From my many conversations with numerous maintenance managers over the years, I have developed some tips that can help you handle mistakes, move past them and get on with things.

- Acknowledge that a mistake has been made. Stay calm, consider what happened and evaluate how much damage has been done.

- Accept responsibility for the mistake. Then, inform those who will be directly affected by it know what happened.

- Develop a plan to fix the mistake and to minimize its effect.

- See what you can learn from the mistake. As the saying goes: “Experience is a great teacher.”

- Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

- Once a mistake is handled adequately, forgive yourself and move on.

- Don’t be afraid to admit you make a mistake. It’s like saying you’re wiser today than you were yesterday.

“Handling mistakes in a calm, logical manner demonstrates your professionalism,” another manager shared with me.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.