How to Professionally Recover From a Mistake

Published: Mar 01, 2024

 Workplace Issues       

While it’s never a good feeling to mess up at work, mistakes in the workplace are inevitable. Properly recovering from your mistakes is the most important part, and by using the tips in this Vault video, you'll be a pro at it. 




There’s no way around it. Mistakes are made at every company, in every industry, at every level – from entry-level employees up to CEOs. It’s inevitable; at some point in your career, you’ll make a mistake at work.

Of course, you should try to learn from your mistakes and not create more mistakes. But they will happen, and it’s your recovery from them that’s arguably more important than the initial error.

So, here are some tips to use the next time you slip up at work.

Step 1: Accountability

The first thing you should do after realizing you made an error is own up to it. Taking accountability highlights your integrity and character, and willingness to help to fix the mistake rather than making excuses or blaming someone else.

Try following a mistake with something like this:

“That was my mistake. I’m glad you caught this so we can get it fixed right away.”

And avoid using language like this:

“I didn’t realize that was my responsibility, that’s why it’s incorrect. Someone else was supposed to catch that.”

Step 2: Solution

After you own up to your mistake, it’s time to work on the solution. Taking the time to properly correct the mistake will show your dedication and willingness to improve. You can start by saying something like this:

“Let’s figure out how to fix this. I’m happy to take the lead here since it was my error.”

Step 3. Learn

And the final step is learning for next time. Keep in mind that simply saying you’ll learn from the mistake doesn’t hold as much weight as your actions. So, try ending the conversation with something along the lines of:

“Next time we work on a project like this one, I’ll make sure to have a better quality control procedure in place.”

You still need to make sure you follow through with this. So, you could create a checklist to go through next time, or send your project to a coworker to review before finalizing.

Whatever the case is, don’t sweat every little slip up. And with these tips, making mistakes won’t be a habit you’ll have to worry about. For more career advice, check out