Mistakes Happen – What Matters Is How You Handle Them


It happens. It’s part of business, and it stinks—we all make mistakes. You can’t avoid mistakes forever, and the odds are pretty good that one will happen eventually.

Rather than live in fear of the moment, plan to manage the mistake. A good business practice is to apply a process for troubleshooting and managing mistakes.

Step One - Acknowledgment

Kids say, “My Bad”, when they make a mistake. They are demonstrating Acknowledgement, the first step in recovering from a mistake. Most of a client’s distress about a mistake comes from wondering how you’ll handle it and the extent of the confrontation that takes place. When you own the problem and/or the solution, you automatically diffuse the situation.

You are really managing your clients’ expectations and impressions of your company. They want to see that you are in charge, taking responsibility as appropriate, and recognizing the importance of the situation—without any dramatics.

Step Two - Personal Reaction Space

You’re not a robot, and you won’t feel good about a mistake. Give yourself room to feel the emotional responses to a mistake. You might feel dread, shame, anger, panic, or frustration—all or any one of these are acceptable reactions. However, solutions are more difficult to come by with emotions in the way; they will not serve you in this step. Once you take time with the emotion, then let it go. Focus on a solution.

Step Three - Work For A Solution.

For every problem, there is a solution. As a wise woman once told me, “It will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” This is the step where you take some actions. Here’s a plan to follow:

1.      Quality Check – Do your QC:  Go back and see where the breakdown occurred.

2.      Determine Root Cause – Find the moment that created the problem.

3.      Fix the Error – Whether it’s an over-order or price adjustment, make it right.

4.      Share Accountability - If there was responsibility on both sides, propose splitting any costs.

At the end of the day, it’s okay to make a mistake; just be ready to fix it. After all, your character and reputation are not built on the fact that you may have made a mistake - but in how you deal with it. If you are struggling, check out the Better Business Coaching System. Working with Michele and her team means you never have to deal with this alone.

Michele WilliamsComment