Messed Up on the Job? Helpful Tips for What to do Next!

Maybe some of you haven’t ever messed up on the job (if that is the case….you are amazing). But for those of us who have, it can be quite daunting.


My first several years as a young professional, I messed up a lot! I was an overanxious young adult whose main drive was to obey and please my fellow co-workers, managers, and bosses, while getting the job done at the same time. While my intentions for business success were good, it was inevitable that I would mess up, because guess what – I was new at the job thing. While I could go into a long argument about how our current social and education models don’t necessarily prepare us to fail well, the focus of this blog post is more about what you can do to overcome mess ups and failures on the job.

First, messing up and making mistakes WILL happen. So, before setting expectations too high, please, please know that messing up is not just part of the job experience, but also part of life.

Second, it is what we do with these mess ups and failures that determine what happens next.

The article How to recover from a big career mistake, by, gives five things someone can do when they mess up terribly at work, including:

  • Diagnose
  • Fess up and apologize
  • Keep communication flowing
  • Wait and watch
  • Remain positive

The article The ‘Just Right’ Reaction When you Mess up at Work by Forbes, demonstrates three scenarios based on  case studies, supporting some tips the MSN article mentions. Some similar and important aspects were: taking a deep breath, and owning up to the mistake.

I  cannot express enough the importance of honesty. Honesty and integrity in the office may seem hard to find, and hard to do. The article Honesty at Work by Career Success for Newbies, talks about what honesty in the workplace can do for you.

Over time, I have learned that mistakes in the workplace are bound to happen. I have been able to develop how I approach each of these situations, and though I haven’t perfected my response, I have found that honesty is the best policy. Because I understand that mistakes do happen, I can approach this issue with the expectation to learn from my mistakes, which in turn will make me a better worker, employee and person.