A Mistake Should Not Derail You

No matter how well any of us do our job, mistakes will occur. How do you respond when this occurs?


I recall a number of years ago a person I worked with made a mistake that apparently wiped out inventory counts from the computer. Her first response was tears, but she quickly regrouped and notified the appropriate person as to what had occurred. This person in turn contacted a consultant who explained what to do. In short order he came to our company and was able to restore what we thought was lost. Here is the important lesson in this story. Despite her initial upset reaction, the person who made the error recovered quickly rather than freeze, which could have made things worse. I think the important lesson was that things may not be as desperate as they at first appear, so don’t freeze. Simply put, a mistake should not derail you.

Blame Someone Else

Another typical reaction when someone makes a mistake is to blame someone else. Now tell me, just how does that help even if the other person does share some of the responsibility? It makes more sense to collaborate in finding a solution. Pointing fingers does nothing more than cause conflict and resentment. There will be plenty of time once the mistake has been corrected to determine the role each person played in it. But by waiting a little while people have a chance to cool down and be rational in assessing what went wrong. I’ve see a manager blow-up at employees when he wasn’t getting what he wanting when he wanted it without stopping to think that he may be partly to blame and that a controlled response could be more helpful. Again, a mistake should not derail you and blaming others not only derails you but those you blame as well.

Calm and Rational

When you or anyone else makes a mistake, take a moment to collect yourself before doing anything. This gives you time to calm down and start thinking rationally instead of reactively in an emotional outburst. Imagine you have made a mistake and don’t want to get blamed or that you have discovered someone else’s mistake. An emotional response serves no useful purpose no matter who erred. A sure way to get derailed and make finding a solution difficult is to point fingers and make accusations. This will not get you the cooperation you need, and if you are the one being blamed don’t you think being placed on the defensive might make it harder to cooperate. Again, a mistake should not derail you so make sure your response is appropriate.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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