Managing Mistakes

By Joe Cramer

In today’s busy work environment, it’s easy for mistakes to be made. Perhaps someone you were counting on to perform a certain task drops the ball when you were depending on them. Or maybe you are the one who made a mistake. In today’s business world, it may seem common practice to hide or cover up your mistakes or even blame someone or something else. The way we handle mistakes can set us apart as Christians and allow us to lead by example.

In my early years as an advisor, I would learn by watching my mentor (who I no longer work with). Whenever a mistake was made, he was quick to blame it on his staff, a glitch in technology, or try to brush it off as if it never happened. He always found a way to spin the truth to protect his credibility and maintain the perception that he was an expert and a trustworthy advisor. It was as if admitting to any mistake showed weakness and might expose him as being unprofessional and inexperienced.

It‘s important to do your work with excellence and try your best to avoid mistakes—but mistakes do happen. In my experience, there is a better and more effective way to handle mistakes:

  • Honestly admit your part in the mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a certain kind of humility and integrity to honestly admit when you messed up. My clients have respected and appreciated when I was honest about my mistake and this has created even more trust in turn.
  • Communicate intended improvements. Communicate to your client/customer/coworker any plans and procedures that have been put in place to catch potential mistakes before they happen. People will appreciate the additional steps you have taken already.
  • Make it up. No, don’t make up excuses…. make it up to the client. Pay their bill, discount your services, buy them a cup of coffee, or send them a gift card. Take care of the problem your mistake created before the customer, client, or coworker even asks.
  • Go the extra mile. Humility and confidence are required to admit to a mistake—while you have your client/customer, coworker engaged with you, go the extra step and ask them in an attentive manner what else you can be doing to better serve them—and listen!

By admitting to your mistakes with integrity and turning a negative situation into an opportunity to better serve those around you with excellence, we can continue to set good examples of what it means to be Christ in the workplace.

On a recent trip, my luggage was lost on a direct flight to Chicago. The baggage claim attendant, Sonja, apologized (even though it wasn’t her fault), updated me every 15 minutes, and promised me she would find my luggage and deliver it to me. An hour after I left the airport, she found my luggage and told me she would have someone (a nice guy named Herb) drive it to me in South Bend, two hours away. The world needs more of us in Christians in Commerce and more people like Sonja and Herb, working with excellence and going the extra mile to take care of people in the marketplace.

One thought on “Managing Mistakes

  1. My father told me when I came into his law practice that “Bad news if best delivered fast”.
    He explained that to be honest, we need to communicate with our clients the good and the bad.
    Dad was a Christian and demonstrated his love for Jesus by has actions, more than his words.
    Dad explained that when we get a good result of our efforts, we can’t wait to tell the client, but when we find out about a bad result, we tend to think of ways to soften the news or worse, blame the bad news on someone or something, not us. We work hard on figuring out how to manipulate the bad news so it does not reflect badly on us.
    That bad action does not bring us peace, which is one of the most pleasing feelings when I follow Jesus’ teachings. Jesus preached truth all the time. Lying is a sin and just leads to more lies, more sin. If you desire peace, be truthful, without regard to my reputation, my father preached. There is only one truth, Gods truth.

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