In a recent article, oil giant BP described the April 20 oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a “learning experience.” Richard Morrison, BP’s vice president of Gulf of Mexico operations, and Richard Lynch, BP’s vice president of drillings and completion, said “spill response has led to technical breakthroughs in how to monitor and clean up oil, and created a storehouse of equipment and knowledge.” Still, new studies out today suggest that recovery from the spill is still far from reach.
What about when we fail at work? How can we recover from our mistakes? Or more to the point, how can we turn our failures at work into learning experiences? If you feel you have made a significant error on the job, consider the following strategies from an article devoted to the recovery process:
- First, address the problem. Schedule a meeting with your boss and talk through the situation. Take responsibility for any fault and commit to learning from your mistake.
- Walk back through the series of events that led to the error. Ask yourself what could have been done differently and consider at what point things went wrong. Outline these details and implement a process to keep it from happening again.
- Submit your ideas in a memo or email to your boss. Depending on the circumstances, ask that this memo be placed in your employee file to illustrate your commitment to growing from this situation.
- Accept the consequences. Depending on the severity of your mistake, there could be serious repercussions. Realize that your situation serves to teach you.
After addressing the problem using the steps above, consider how you might be able to grow professionally from this experience:
- Ask your boss if you can attend a seminar, training or other professional development event designed to enhance your skills in an area related to the mistake.
- Offer to pay for this event out of pocket. After attending the event, present your findings to your lab or department.
- Follow up with your boss. After a period of time, schedule a meeting with your boss to review your performance. Ask for feedback and prove that you want to grow from this experience.
Finally, once the problem has been resolved, move on. Put your head down and focus on your work to avoid future mistakes. Demonstrating competency and proving your worth may be the most productive way to recover.