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Admin Pro Forum

Ever made a big work blunder—and gotten away with it?

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Question: "We've all made big mistakes at work and paid the price ... but have you ever committed a whopper of an error only to find that no one noticed, or the mistake corrected itself somehow? How did it make you feel? Did you confess, or just let it slide and consider yourself lucky?" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Trisha May 31, 2018 at 4:46 pm

I also think it’s a matter of ethics. When you admit a mistake, it says a lot about your character… you’re upfront, honest, and you care about your team. If you hide a mistake, well…

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Cathy May 18, 2018 at 10:47 am

I always admit my mistakes – minor or major. If I’m the only one that notices a mistake, I correct it then let the project manager know about it. If I can’t correct it because the report has already gone out the door, I definitely let the project manager know. Usually it’s nothing major, but that’s not the point. If you want to be seen as a responsible reliable Assistant, you have to own up to your mistakes, correct them, then do what you can to not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. As Jessica noted, “It will show them who you are.”

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Ronald May 18, 2018 at 8:56 am

One time I was supposed to send a package to a work conference, and realized I hadn’t checked one particular tiny box on a customs form, making it late, which might have really caused a problem. I’ll be honest, I waited to confess, thinking everything might be all right…. and it was. I would have felt much better about fessing up in advance if I hadn’t already been in a little hot water from a recent previous minor mistake. Sometimes you just hit a bad streak and want to keep your head low, hoping you’ll get lucky. I’ve gone stretches of years where I didn’t screw anything up at all, so it kind of felt like when this happened, I was “entitled” to a little luck, so I hoped for it rather than expose myself to more criticism for an error anyone could have made. Since then I’ve had bosses who made me feel much more comfortable in bringing problems to them, so I’ve never had to “get away” with something again.

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Judith May 17, 2018 at 6:17 pm

I confessed and while there were no high fives, the rest of the staff was very supportive. There is no way I could be part of a team without being up front and forthright. We are working very hard to have a safe environment where you can be yourself and show your vulnerability without recrimination.

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Dawn May 17, 2018 at 4:44 pm

I fell terrible when I make a really huge mistake. Regardless if it somehow fixes itself I feel better if I go ahead and tell what happened. I like to think I have a reputation for being an honest person and wouldn’t want to jeopardize that in any way.

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Fran May 17, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Yes, I’ve committed big and small mistakes. I feel you should be truthful and tell your employer. It’s always best to be honest.

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Melissa May 17, 2018 at 4:36 pm

I have often procrastinated about doing something and then come in the next day and something changed so it was good I did procrastinate. I try never to come in with a problem that I don’t have a solution for.

I don’t see much point in taking credit for an error that has corrected itself. Is it really still an error?

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Trisha May 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm

It’s always best to step up and own any mistakes you’re responsible for. While it hurts the ego to think, “Omg! I messed up big time!,” don’t beat yourself up over it. Apologize and promise it will never happen again. Consider it a valuable learning experience and move on. Unless, of course, you’ve cost the company millions… then you might want to dust off that resume and start looking. :)

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Karen Howard May 17, 2018 at 4:26 pm

I worked in an elementary school, typed a Halloween letter to parents about the parade. I typed please invite your family and “fiends” instead of friends…parents thought it was hysterical and on purpose. I was totally embarrassed!

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Susan May 17, 2018 at 4:11 pm

I think it’s best to own up to your mistakes right away. People like to know that you can be relied upon and that you are trustworthy. The fear of having a mistake that you have covered up discovered in the future would leave me feeling paralyzed!

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Jessica May 17, 2018 at 4:07 pm

I always fess up no matter how big or small the mistake was. I feel that if you want to be known as a truthful and honest person you need to fess up and own your mistakes to your employer. It will show them who you are.

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Luecinda May 18, 2018 at 11:29 am

I agree Jessica, I admit my mistake or if I had inadvertently forgot to do something in a timely manner. I believe honesty is the best policy. I forgot to follow-up on a meeting I had scheduled and did not put it on the calendar and the other party arrived and my boss was not available. I apologized and admitted I had truly forgot to place on his calendar and rescheduled the meeting without a problem.

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Gwen May 31, 2018 at 4:23 pm

I would rather tell on myself than have someone else tell on me. It can be embarrassing and scary, but I am trying to be transparent with my supervisors’ and want to be known as honest and above-board and a great team player.

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Jessica May 31, 2018 at 4:43 pm

They always seem to be so much more forgiving if you tell them first.

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