Taking Responsibility for a Mistake

Many team members are afraid to take responsibility for a mistake, yet to be accountable to others shows maturity. Here’s an example of how not taking responsibility for an error can lead to bad feelings.

After my physical therapy appointment today I paid by credit card. I signed the slip and took the copy of the receipt saying, “So we’re all set, correct?” The receptionist agreed. About 10 minutes later I got a call on my cell phone from the receptionist telling me my card was still at their office. I mentioned I had said, “So we’re all set.” She then blamed someone else for not returning the card to me. When I went to pick it up I thanked her, but I never heard her take any responsibility for keeping my card; not even, “Sorry for the inconvenience.” Not a word of apology. If she had just accepted some responsibility for not handing me back my card, it would have made me feel so much better. Instead I felt “put out.” Not because I had to waste gas and time coming back, but because she didn’t acknowledge her error in any way.

If you work on a team, remember this the next time something goes wrong and it’s your fault. Acknowledge your mistake and apologize to anyone it may have affected. Taking responsibility is mature behavior. Hiding and pretending you didn’t do anything wrong simply makes others angry and destroys your reputation with your team members.