Admitting Mistakes is Key to Building a Team That Lasts

Caitlyn Knuth
August 28, 2022

Whether you’re part of a professional team, or you’re in the process of trying to build a strong team environment at home, the expectations can be high. Across the board, teambuilding tends to come with hopes that everyone involved will bring their best to the table at all times. Then comes the realization that we are all, in fact…human. Mistakes are inevitably going to be a part of the teambuilding equation. How we choose to handle them can be key to the rise or downfall of a team in the end.

From small missteps to giant errors that can’t be overlooked, mistakes are unavoidable occurrences in life. But perhaps more challenging than facing a mistake is admitting to those who are counting on you that it happened in the first place. There’s something within our human nature that pushes us to find someone else to take the blame. Mistakes are often linked to embarrassment, fear, and frustration. It’s typically far easier to hand those unpleasant realities off than to accept them as your own.

That said, learning to admit when mistakes have been made is an important step in building a team that lasts. It’s a sign that you’re willing to step up to a challenge, even when you’re the one that put the hurdle there in the first place. That’s something a strong team can get behind. The following are just a few more reasons admitting mistakes with grace is important to successful teambuilding.

1.Admitting Your Mistakes is a Display of Honesty

Nothing tears apart a team faster than deep rooted distrust among members. This is as true in the workplace as it is in our homes. When a team is made to feel they can’t trust someone in their ranks, whether teammates or leaders, good will quickly falls apart.

Admitting your mistakes, no matter how painful that process may be, is a sure way to show your team you’re an honest participant in the teambuilding process. Getting ahead of the news and being the one to deliver it shows your teammates you’re willing to step up to the difficult scenario and bear responsibility.

While there will still likely be repercussions, these are often far more manageable to deal with than when teammates find out about a mistake through other channels and feel deceived. Admitting mistakes honestly provides a possibility to make authentic amends right up front.

2. It’s a Sign That You Put Integrity Ahead of Ego

What we do in the shadows says as much about us as what we do in the light of day. When it comes to building a strong and lasting team, admitting when things have gone wrong when nobody else noticed is a sure sign of integrity.

Owning up to a misstep in front of your team is a testament to a fully functioning inner compass. You’re willing to show your team that you don’t simply give into the defensive reflex of protecting yourself and your ego. Instead, you bring those mistakes out into the light and deal with them. This is something that’s bound to garner respect amongst teammates, even when the mistakes are hard to face.

3. Admitting a Mistake Indicates You’re Looking to Move Forward

In some ways, admitting a mistake to your teammates is much like ripping the bandaid off a wound. Is it fun? Not at all. Is it effective toward moving forward with the healing process? Absolutely.

It’s easy to get caught up in guilt related to mistakes we make professionally and personally. However, admitting them to those who are counting on us is an effective way to indicate that you could use some support and are willing and ready to move beyond the difficult moment. When everyone on the team knows what needs to be dealt with, finding resolution can help us move away from internal fear and more toward team problem-solving.

While you’ll likely see a faster solution to a mistake with the help of others, admitting the mistake initially is also a good first step in moving past the incident yourself. A team that’s willing to forgive that mistake alongside you is one worth investing in over the long-term.  

Go Ahead and Admit That Mistake—It’s Worth It

No matter how hard we try, we’re always going to find ourselves in a reality where mistakes happen. The ability to dig deep beyond our first instincts and admit those mistakes to our teammates makes us stronger as individuals and as a cohesive unit.

Shying away from mistakes is only something that ever works in the short-term. Eventually, all those missteps have a way of coming to light. Realizing that there’s a valuable lesson to be learned in the mistake offers up potential for progress moving forward.

When you’re working to build a strong team in any setting, long-term success begins with the ability to admit when you’re at fault. Once that’s done, it’s time to look ahead at the good things that just might thrive out of a seemingly painful situation.

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