If you've ever witnessed someone make a mistake and then give excuses about why it wasn't his or her fault, you know how pathetic this behavior is. On the flip side, isn't it refreshing when a person owns up to failure? As someone who specializes in human behavior, Tim Eisenhauer, HR expert and president of Axero Solutions has some tips to share on the subject. Here's what he says you need to do when you screw up, at least if you want to save face and maybe even garner some respect out of the experience.
1. Own it.
Take responsibility for whatever you did and understand the possible impact. If you don't show your mistake, how will it get corrected? Of course, you'd rather figure it out on your own, but no one is right all the time. So, give yourself room to be wrong, and don't defend yourself in hindsight. Defensiveness is your number one enemy.
2. Be proactive about solutions.
How did the mistake happen? Pinpoint where you went wrong. Then ask yourself what you can do to fix the problem. Can you fix it on your own or do you need someone's help? Don't try to sweep it under the rug--that could backfire. Who should you tell? A coworker, your manager, HR?
3. Communicate the mistake to those affected or to those who can help.
Learn to communicate in ways that appeal to people's humanity. Show your human side and be sincere. Show that you care to fix it. Be honest about your struggles and let others surprise you with their empathy and good will.
4. Expect to make public mistakes.
Use them to cure yourself and your whole company of being defensive. Of course, do whatever you can to not repeat a failure.
5. Trust people to help you.
Taking responsibility means sacrificing your pride, not pumping your ego. It also means showing trust in people to help you. What if everyone in your company owned up to their mistakes and wanted to fix what they had done? "Imagine if [people] could trust everyone else to have their back when things don't go according to plan," he says.