One of my biggest fears when working on a construction site was making a mistake. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform because I knew a lot of eyes were watching me. I felt I had to prove my worth. I cringe over some of the mistakes I made, but thankfully most could be rectified and they weren’t big enough to put anyone in danger.
No one likes to make mistakes. But sometimes you need to make them so you can learn from them. There are no perfect apprentices or tradespeople that don’t make mistakes. I’ve seen some tradesman make huge mistakes – coring holes in the wrong area, splashbacks being measured wrong twice – costing a fortune in labour costs and materials, apprentices dropping brand new toilet bowls on the last day of fit off for a bathroom – the list is endless. If tradies are human, they’re going to make mistakes.
If you do make a mistake, don’t hide it. Yes, it can be humiliating to admit you’ve messed up, but facing the music shows more of your integrity than hiding and blaming the mistake on someone else.
Some of the mistakes I have made on the job have been picking up the wrong gear from Reece, to drilling through a concrete floor when I was only meant to go 20-30mm in.
Mistakes can be proof that you are trying, although you won’t want to be making them all the time.
I know of a young project manager that was employed by one of our commercial clients. The project manager made an incorrect order and got the order delivered to the work site. When he realized his mistake, instead of owning up to it and organizing a truck to pick up the delivery and keep it for another job, he asked the demolishers to dump the delivery. The demolishers did as they were asked but word went back to the head manager who was furious because the mistake had not only cost the company money, but it had been secretly destroyed so the mistake couldn’t be found out. The project manager was sacked and even though I felt sorry for him, I also thought he was a bit dumb. There was no need to destroy a delivery that could have been used for another job. If only he had realized his mistake in hiding his stuff up could have prevented him from losing his job.
Don’t bury yourself in fear of making a mistake. If you make one, fix it and if you can’t, talk to someone onsite for advice on how to fix it. If it’s going to cost you money to get your mistake fixed – then hold your head high and face the consequences.
To avoid mistakes always measure twice. Always check the plans twice. Arrive to work being the best you can be – that could mean not having a late night or avoiding drinking the night before going to work.
The moment you realise it’s ok to make a mistake and your boss and colleagues make them too, you can learn to relax a bit more in your work, while still producing your best output.
Have you ever made a mistake at work? How did you handle it? How did your boss react to your mistake?