How to live with a really bad decision

August 1, 2016

We’ve all been there, we’ve all made a bad decision at least once in our lives. Although making a poor decision is part and parcel of being a human being, it can often lead to unfavourable consequences which can be difficult to handle.

Flickr train crash no copyright

But it is how you handle the fallout that really matters….

Someone who has certainly had their fair share of stumbling blocks is Sir Richard Branson. I’m sure we can all agree that he has let his mistakes shape him, rather than define him. You may not be aware, but Sir Richard made a really bad decision in the 70’s by purposefully avoiding taxes…for personal gain. Whilst in the short term Sir Richard financially benefited from this decision, ultimately it resulted a short stay in prison and a complete change in attitude. Instead of dwelling on his past, Sir Richard faced the punishment, realised the error of his ways and changed his whole mind-set. This mistake was life-changing and enabled him to learn the importance of maintaining a clean and professional reputation.


With this in mind, here are our top tips when it comes to making a bad decision/mistake at work:


  • Firstly and most importantly DO NOT beat yourself up!! Remember that you are human and that mistakes are the portals of discovery! However cheesy this may be, it’s true! Mistakes are vital learning points that allow for both personal and professional improvement, so see the positive – use them to your advantage.


  • Accept responsibility. Be honest with yourself and those that need to know. By approaching the situation head on, you can fix it, learn from it and move on. Burying your head in the sand will only exacerbate the issue and the same can be said if you fail to take accountability. Your manager would far rather know so that they can help you resolve the issue. Whilst they may be disappointed initially, ultimately your honesty will gain their respect.


  • Apologise, but don’t over apologise. It’s important to take responsibility and ensure that all parties are aware of the circumstances. A meaningful apology shows that you genuinely care and recognise the impact of your actions. However, apologising more than once can indicate that your focus is on the issue rather than the resolution.


  • Move on. You’ve dealt with the consequences and accepted responsibility. Leave your mistakes in the past, continue to dedicate yourself to your work, stay focused on tasks and view this experience as a development opportunity.


At HR180, we are passionate that making mistakes is a crucial part of the learning process – in fact this belief is so important to us that it is part of our organisational values! However, if you’re struggling to come to terms with a bad decision or if an employee is failing to recognise the impact of their poor choices or mistakes, fear not, HR180 can assist. Call us on 0113 287 8150 for commercial and straight talking advice.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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