Despite all the trainings, workshops, classes – and best intentions – we all flub up on the job. It can be as mundane as forgetting to book the conference room for the client meeting or as serious as administering the wrong medication dosage.
Of course, no one wants to mess up, especially at work. Probably not at home either if you’re “fortunate” enough to share space with someone who just loves to point out your mistakes. And I bet when you recall those instances when you did blow it, you get that sinking feeling in your gut just at the mere memory.
What can you do in the future to help eliminate the chance of error? We can begin by understanding the four main causes of human error. Then when you find yourself in one – or more – of these states, be vigilant.
1. Rushing. Whether it’s trying to quickly apply mascara to get out of the house on time or working against a last-minute deadline, when we rush, we often make mistakes – mistakes that cost us more time! When you find yourself scurrying to complete a project or make a deadline, pause, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to slow down. After all, if it saves you from making a crucial error or having to get out the eye makeup removal pads, it will have been time well-spent.
2. Frustration. You’re juggling 11 work projects right now, feeling like you’re barely keeping it together. That’s when Alex from accounting pops by your cubicle and nonchalantly drops off a sheaf of papers. “We need those last quarter numbers from your department revised. Jessica’s at a conference this week, so looks like you’ll have to handle it.” Rather than keep quiet as your jaw tightens and frustration mounts, now is the time to speak your truth: “I understand you need these revisions, so I will get them for you. Moving forward, let’s have a meeting when Jessica returns so we can create a schedule for deliverables.”
3. Fatigue. If you’re finding yourself making a fresh pot of coffee at 4 p.m. or zoning in front of the TV in the evening, you need to wake up to this truth: A recent Harvard Medical School study found that sleep-deprived American workers cost their employers $63 billion in lost productivity. Recommendations: Turn off screen devices an hour before going to bed. The blue light emitted by screens interferes with the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Listen to calming music rather than a crime drama before drifting off to sleep. If possible, get moving during the workday. Even a 10-minute walk outside can make a difference. If you’re chronically tired, perhaps it’s time to see a doctor. And be willing to speak up and ask for help at home if you’re shouldering the majority of the burden there. No one to ask? Let it go and go to bed.
4. Complacency. You’ve done the same task hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Are you bored out of your mind at your job? I believe if you can do your job with your eyes closed, it’s time to open your eyes for new opportunities. Yet, I realize some boring job tasks are never going away. So while it may be tempting to let your mind wander as you assemble packages for the upcoming trade show, think of how you’ll feel if you or your supervisor doesn’t have what’s needed game day. We’re trying to eliminate that cringe-inducing feeling you get when you’ve blown it on the job. So especially when faced with a repetitious or dull task, remain present.
When you do make an error at work – as we all do – speak your truth. Own it, document how it happened and how you’ll prevent it from ever happening again, and move forward. Not bad advice for at home either.