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When you really mess up at work

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Mistakes happen. Everyone makes them, but what do you do when you royally screw up and put your team, your organization or your job at risk? Follow this advice:

Do take it seriously. You can’t ignore or cover up the issue because you don’t want to look bad. And you can’t downplay it and act like it isn’t as bad as it seems. While you may be trying to protect your reputation and keep others from panicking, you can look dishonest, or like you don’t care at all. Be prepared to accept responsibility for your mistake.

Don’t flip out. You may want to run around the workplace, dramatically confessing your sins and begging for everyone’s forgiveness. While your goal may be to show everyone how much you care, you’ll just come across as incapable of handling difficult situations. Instead of stressing yourself and everyone else out, start focusing on solutions.

Do proceed carefully. Take a deep breath, evaluate your options, understand the implications of your mistake, and then plan your next step. Figure out who you should tell first. Then approach that person, and offer a clear, concise description of what happened. Do apologize for your role in the mistake, but don’t make excuses or whine. Instead, present your solutions, and ask for the person’s advice.

— Adapted from “The ‘Just Right’ Reaction When You Mess Up at Work,” Ashley Cobert, The Muse, www.themuse.com.

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