Consulting: What to do When You’ve Made a Mistake
It’s no secret that everybody makes mistakes. The question is though, how do you own your mistakes in business? Consider particularly if you’re a consultant and you make a mistake for your customer. What do you do?
The simplest answer is to come clean right away. You should never try to cover it up. Many times that is the first instinct for someone who does something wrong. The thought process is, “Did anybody notice?” If the answer was no, then commonly the thought process jumps to, “Nobody needs to know that I did this.” The fact of the matter is though that you are a consultant. You have been paid and now you’ve made a mistake that could affect your client. People are human and everyone, from the top down, is going to make mistakes in life and in work. Consultants included.
The best thing you can do in this type of situation is to own what you’ve done wrong and then try to think of ways to mitigate that mistake. Always present it to the client. The key is to get in front of the problem. You should present your misstep in a way that says, “This is how I messed up and this is how I can fix it.”
In order to be a successful consultant, you have to be a problem solver. You will wear a multitude of different hats as a consultant. This is the time to find your problem solving hat and begin to come up with ideas and strategies for how to fix the problem that you have created or contributed to. The hard truth is that, if you’re a good consultant, problem solving should come naturally in situations like these. If you’re not very good at problem solving, then you probably shouldn’t be a consultant. These situations will be wake up calls that set those meant to make it apart from the rest.
Working as a consultant, you are already constantly problem solving on behalf of your client. There should be a natural flow then into problem solving any issues that you may have created. Mistakes will get made, across the board, in business. It’s the way that you handle yourself and handle the problems in the face of these mistakes that will reveal your character and your aptitude as a consultant.
What are your thoughts on the best approach to owning your mistakes as a consultant? Should you come clean to the client every time? Is there a different approach you prefer? Comment below!
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