Here’s the thing about mistakes: Everyone makes them. But making a big mistake at work doesn’t have to be a career killer. As awful as it might feel in the moment, you can take steps to regain trust, minimize damage, and mend the situation. It’s important to be proactive. As soon as you become aware of the gaffe, try to get in front of the situation before it spirals. Address whatever took place so people know you’re aware of the problem, and they don’t feel the pressure to bring it to your attention.
Reach out to anyone impacted by your actions, hear them out (or ask for their feedback), and share a plan for improvement moving forward. Offer an apology, if warranted. Make it genuine. Don’t be defensive or make it about you. Instead, acknowledge your error and the harm you caused to the other person, team, or business. And don’t forget to show yourself compassion. Setbacks at work can be embarrassing, but being excessively self-critical isn’t helpful.
Berating yourself for something in the past won’t make the mistake go away. So own up, and move on.