It would be nice to avoid mistakes completely, but that's not a reasonable or even attainable goal. As long as it's not a careless error or something that would threaten life or limb, most people forgive small mistakes. It's when you repeatedly make the same ones that it becomes a problem. Here are tips to help you avoid mistakes, both new and repeated.
Make Sure You're Trained Well
How much training you get before starting a new job or taking on a new responsibility is probably out of your hands, but you still have the power to make the most of the training you do get and continue to study later. Taking good notes for later reference helps you avoid mistakes. Whenever you have free time at work, spend a few minutes going over your notes and whatever other study materials you were given during training. Compare what you've been doing on the job to what you learned. If you find discrepancies that concern you, talk to someone about it.
Write Stuff Down
One of the most common mistakes people make is relying on memory alone. According to the Franklin Institute Online, increased levels of stress hormones not only make it difficult to lay down new memories, but also to retrieve existing ones. When working under difficult conditions, such as against a deadline or during peak hours, don't gamble on your memory. Avoid mistakes by taking a few minutes to write down what you need to get done and any important steps, checks or details.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
You need to recognize your mistakes if you want to learn from them. Never deny them or try to cover them up, as it just makes things worse. When you make a mistake, show maturity by taking responsibility for it and evaluating what went wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistake in the future. Even small mistakes need to be assessed and corrected, as they can add up to significant costs in both time and money when not fixed.
Most employers would rather answer a few questions than see things done incorrectly. If you're not sure how to do something, ask. If you make a mistake, find someone to give you an objective opinion on where the fault lies and your handling of the situation. It doesn't have to be a boss — seek the advice of trusted colleagues or individuals familiar with your work. Ask them how they would handle things and how you can avoid mistakes in the future.
You can't avoid mistakes altogether, but you can learn from your mistakes to prevent repeating them. When mistakes happen, look at them as an opportunity to prove that you are mature, responsible and care about getting your job done right. Use the knowledge you've gleaned from failure to improve and grow.
(Photo courtesy of stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net)