Mistakes may be a fact of life but it takes training, education and experience to know how to handle them. The following is an article from the International Foundation for Protection Officers Protection News written by Roger Fulton that completes the circle on handling mistakes.
It starts out innocently, “Boss, you got a minute?” Whether you do or not, your subordinate proceeds to tell you about the mistake he made, thereby dropping the whole thing right into your lap. Now what?
Mistakes are a fact of life. Your subordinates will make them, and occasionally you will make them as well. Since they cannot always be avoided, the success of your career may depend on your ability to handle mistakes whenever they occur.
Here are a few hints to help you handle those mistakes, and the problems they can create.
Evaluate It!Acknowledge that a mistake has occurred, keeping in mind that all mistakes can be handled. Stay calm, and realistically evaluate how much damage has been done. When you think it through logically, chances are that there is less damage than it originally appeared.
Be Up FrontAccept responsibility for the mistake and advise your supervisor of the situation. You may also need to advise anyone else who will be directly affected by it as well. However, that’s about it! There is no sense in broadcasting a mistake to the entire organization if it’s not necessary.
Handle ItFormulate, then act on a plan of action to correct the mistake, and to minimize the effect of it. Take the steps necessary to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Keep your supervisor informed of your progress as you logically work your way through the entire situation.
Document Your ActionsRecord all of the details of the incident. How it occurred, when and how you learned of it, to whom you notified and what actions you took. This documentation will be of great value if you have to answer questions at a later date. It will also tend to protect you, your subordinates and the organization by documenting the events at the time that they occur.
Learn and GrowExperience is a great teacher. The problems and mistakes that you handle will increase your levels of knowledge, maturity and confidence. At the same time, your ability to effectively handle the situation will be watched by subordinates, and they will learn from your example.
When you handle problems and mistakes calmly, logically and professionally, you will gain the respect of your subordinates, and your superiors. This respect, coupled with the knowledge and experience you gained, should make you a prime candidate when it comes to future promotions.