Here are a few tips to help you with damage control and bounce back at work.
Get a hold of yourself
Your first instinct will most probably be one of panic, anxiety and the thought that you might lose your job. So wait for your anxiety to abate by practicing deep breathing so that you can think with a clear head. Stay focused on the present and assess the damage before going up to your boss with your confession.
Own up immediately and apologize
Although you might be tempted to delay the inevitable or cover up, it is always better to confess your mistake immediately to your boss or team lead so that a solution can be worked out as quickly as possible. So although it is a sticky and difficult task, take a deep breath and own up. If the mistake is made by the group, then acknowledge your role in it without blaming others. Apologizing for your mistakes honestly indicates that you are transparent and positive in your approach.
Try not to be overly defensive
Don't waste too much energy on beating yourself up, instead focus on the task at hand. If you are too defensive then you may be perceived as being someone who is unsure and not in control of the situation. Examine the reasons that led to the mistake and explain the same without sounding as though you are making an excuse. Sometimes there may be a flaw in the system and this is a good time to recognize and correct it. Sometimes a bad outcome can be converted into something productive!
Be a part of the solution
Since you are responsible for creating the problem, it is your responsibility to come up with ideas to resolve the issue. Your plan should take into consideration all the people that will be involved and affected, which includes your customers as well. So go to your boss or team lead with a fool proof plan this time. This will confirm to him that you are in control of the situation.
Learn from the past
The process of moving forward involves learning from mistakes and not dwelling on them. Prepare a document that has details of the mistakes made, what led to them, the measures you have taken to correct it and your plans for preventing recurrence of the same mistakes.
Get your act together again
Picking yourself up after a mistake is one of the most crucial steps that you can take. Don't let your mistakes dent your confidence. Recognize that mistakes can happen to anyone and that you can get past them. This will help you be more resilient and look ahead at the future with confidence.
Once you accept responsibility for your role in the problem and have taken steps to remedy your mistakes, let your boss and co-workers know that you are back in business. Employers appreciate it if you have come through your mistakes to move forward. Don't hesitate to ask for help in taking steps to avoid the same mistakes. Ask your boss what you can do to rebuild his trust in you.
It is important that you avoid defining your self-worth by one incident or mistake. It is natural to imagine the worst case scenario, but focusing on the reality will help you learn from it. Like George Bernard Shaw once said - "Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time."