How to Bounce Back from a Big Mistake at Work

May 10, 2018
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What was the biggest mistake you have made at work? Was it hard to get pass? Were you sent on a spiral that ultimately affected your career? How exactly do you get pass making a big mistake and carry on in your workplace?

It’s human to make mistakes — after all, no one is perfect. However, errors in the workplace can feel ominous. If you break your mother’s favorite vase, she’s still going to love you. If you wreck your spouse’s car, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up in divorce court.

But the workplace is a different environment, and depending on the severity of your error, it could derail your career. Fortunately, by taking the right steps, you can recover. Carolyn Thompson, executive recruiter and managing principal at Merito Group, a Washington, DC-based boutique consulting and recruiting firm, explains how you can bounce back from a major mistake.

Accept Responsibility

The first step is to acknowledge your actions without making excuses, according to Thompson. “Admit you messed up, instead of explaining why you messed up,” she says. “When you get into trying to explain what happened, you create an opportunity for conflict to start.” However, when you take responsibility and admit it was your fault, Thompson says you can avoid a contentious back-and-forth discussion.

Reprove Your Value

The next step is to show your boss that you’re still a valuable asset to the organization. Realistically speaking, Thompson says it may take three or four times to rebuild trust. “In a private conversation, you need to explain that you’re not going to make the same mistake twice,” she says. “This is where it’s important to have emotional intelligence — show that you grew from this situation and you’re better, instead of trying to pretend it never happened.” Depending on the cause of the error, she says it may be necessary to gather input (for example, ask for clarity or confirmation) to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

To read more on our Principle Director’s advice on how to bounce back from a mistake at work, please click here.


Merito Group is a small women-owned business providing excellence in outsourced talent acquisition solutions including retained executive search, RPO, and consulting services. Looking to hire exceptional talent? Contact us by email or 703-734-6340. To view our current career opportunities click here.

Copyright Merito Group LLC © 2021

Copyright Merito Group LLC © 2021