At some point in your career, you’re going to make some mistakes. You’re human. And, whilst life’s easier if we don’t make too many, a mistake presents an opportunity to learn. Honestly, it does. One tricky aspect of work life is how you manage a disappointed boss when you’ve messed up. Rather than cower in fear waiting to be told off, here are some pointers to help you ’manage up’.

making mistakes

Come clean first

Rather than waiting for the ‘catch up’ to go in your diary at the end of the day, take control as soon as you’re aware of the issue and book some time in with your boss first. It shows ownership and your willingness to take responsibility, which means you start on the front foot  not the back!


If you’re feeling under pressure to deliver, it’s more than likely that your boss will be feeling this even more. Any disappointment that they might have with how you’ve performed will be influenced by how exposed it might have left them and added to their own stresses and pressures. Being able to put yourself in their shoes will lift you out of the scolded child role and help you come up with solutions to better support each other going forward.

Be accountable

If you’ve ever had to complain about something, you’ll know that the best customer experience is always when the person you believe to be responsible immediately apologises. No need to grovel but be accountable. This is about acknowledging that you played your part in the situation and are willing to take ownership which is all a boss ever wants to hear.


Offer a solution

Everyone has a lot on their plates and no one wants to deal with a problem child. You’ll get much more support and benefit of the doubt if you’ve demonstrated that you’ve tried to come up with a fix or a different approach for next time. Come to the meeting with a solution and you’ll have a much easier conversation.