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Learn from your mistakes in life

The first rule of work is don?t make mistakes. The second rule of work is don?t make mistakes. The third rule of work is? you know the rote by now. While a wise man said that to err is human and to forgive divine, what every employee feels is that divinity is largely absent in office spaces.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2006 13:53 IST
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The first rule of work is don’t make mistakes. The second rule of work is don’t make mistakes. The third rule of work is… you know the rote by now. While a wise man said that to err is human and to forgive divine, what every employee feels is that divinity is largely absent in office spaces. The dilemma, therefore, faced by most mortals, when they discover the blunder they have committed is, to tell or not to tell.

Confession box

Own up, suggest most HR managers. Says Chand Narayan, Head HR, CNBC TV18, “If an employee makes a mistake, it’s best to own up at the earliest and rectify it. The employee should look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn from the mistake.”

Agrees Sandeep Kulshrestha, Head HR, Barysl, “Determine who needs to know, and then explain what happened and the sequence of events that led to the particular slip.” The idea is to give explanations and not excuses for what happened. Inadvertent mistakes do happen and the best way to deal with it is to rectify them and ensure that the same does not happen again.

Concurs A. Naykar, a senior management level officer with a small firm, “If it were a minor mistake, one may set it right immediately. It may not be necessary to report it to a concerned official. However, if it’s a blunder, the repercussions might lead the boss squarely back to you, no matter how hard you try to hide it. It’s better to get the boss on the know and work out a solution.”

A mega mistake might be covered up, if you are sure that it’s not going to get out into the open. But that’s pretty rare.
Usually, you may want to correct it yourself and share the issue with concerned colleagues who will be affected by the matter. However, how you are going to reveal it and with whom, depends on your organisation’s work culture.

Be honest with your manager

“I would appreciate honesty,” says Radha Subbaih, Senior Group Leader, at a BPO firm. “Our output depends on our team members bringing in the deals. Most of them are freshers and in spite of their training, some do commit mistakes. If these are brought to the senior members’ notice, they can learn from our experience on how to handle similar situations and avoid future mistakes.”

Consequences

That most of us have committed mistakes at the workplace is true, but the nature of the slip-ups also plays a part both in how it should be conveyed to the superior and how the superior receives it. Chance mistakes are often committed when employees are tired or stressed out.

Then there is the error of ignorance and thirdly the most fatal of them all, the error of negligence due lack of responsibility or due diligence. According to a TV channel head, the repercussion of telling your boss about the gaffe you made might depend on the gravity of the mistake. “Repetitive mistakes and unethical actions top the list for employees being sacked.” Some employees are action-oriented — who do double the work done. However, this also increases their tendency to commit mistakes.

Unethical behaviour tops the list of reasons why an employee might be asked to resign. Agrees Subbaih, “In firms such as ours, data security is of paramount importance and anybody who manipulates and misuses information is asked to leave. But then those are not mistakes but intentional frauds. When such a thing is brought to my notice, I look into the employees’ past records, the nature of his past mistakes and how frequent they were.”

(Supriya Madangarli )

First Published: Mar 11, 2006 13:51 IST