So you messed up big time at work. The good news is that you are not alone. Most successful professionals admit to having messed up multiple times.
The bad news is you have to deal with it. If your blunder gets you fired, start looking for a job and figure out how will you explain the situation to prospective employers. If your huge mistake does not get you fired, here’s how to recover your credibility and career.
Keep your feet on the ground
What could be the worst possible outcome? If you sent an inappropriate email to a client, will your company lose the account? What will it mean for your career? Will it cost you your reputation or job? Once you are mentally prepared for the worst, you can plan actions to reduce impact and initiate a recovery for your company and yourself.
Don’t act ‘hyper’
Cut the drama. Stop saying ‘Sorry’ excessively and apologising repeatedly to everyone while seeking their help to solve your mistake. You may be expressing remorse, but for your colleagues, you are wasting their time and thus the company’s resources. To your boss, you are displaying an inability to handle pressure or take useful action.
Don’t be ‘chill’
You made a mistake and you wish to avoid telling others because it will spoil your reputation. When they find out, you act as if it isn’t a big deal and have an excuse ready. This is a terrible idea. Your colleagues will believe that you do not care for consequences and are not truthful. Your team leader will decide that you lack judgement and cannot be trusted. By avoiding facts, you are denying yourself an opportunity to rectify the and rebuild your reputation thereafter.
Come clean before someone else finds out about your error, advertises it and everyone makes negative assumptions about you. Figure out who you need to inform and apologise to. Usually this includes colleagues who are likely to be most affected and your boss. If it is a client who will suffer from your mess up, then the sequence of telling people matters. Discuss it with your manager and client facing people first to figure out the best communication, timing and actions required. Taking ownership for your mistake displays maturity, concern and reliability.
Bring a solution
Your colleagues and your manager expect you to do your own thinking and to bring possible solutions to the table to reverse the error. By presenting solutions, you save everyone’s time and they find it easier to trust your abilities to solve the problem. If it is an irreversible mistake, then solve for what can be done to compensate. First, identify the actions that need to be taken and the people whose help will be required. If you sent a faulty shipment. Second, articulate the correct communication plan to smooth ruffled feathers. Finally, spell out how will you do things differently in future to avoid such situations.
Allow for grief
It is ok to feel terrible for a while after having blundered but it is not ok to continue wallowing in it for ever. If you goofed up on a team project requiring rework and fresh deadlines, you will be mortified and will find it difficult to face your colleagues every day. Permit yourself to feel wretched and guilty for some time. Thereafter forgive yourself, focus on your work and your positive contributions to keep your grief in check. No one has the time. Thereafter forgive yourself, focus on your work and your positive contributions to keep your grief in check. No one has the time to remember your gaffes forever and neither should you dwell on them at the cost of performance.
Slog it out
When things go wrong, be prepared to dig deep and work really hard. Reach early to work and make sacrifices to deliver beyond expectations. Take on tasks no one wants to do, go the extra mile to exceed targets and put in effort to turn in the highest quality outcomes. Remember to make and keep promises to your team, manager and clients in output and deadlines. This rebuilds your credibility and marks you out as a person who works hard when there is a problem.
If you have messed up a deadline that is critical for your boss or your firm, it is natural for them to be concerned for the future. Accept that your team leader may micro-manage your output until you prove your reliability once again. Have a positive attitude when you report your progress on an hourly or daily basis and help the person quickly audit and question your work. Be extra careful in meeting deadlines and quality standards and view this as an opportunity to rebuild trust. When things return to normal, you will know your credibility is restored.
Find the gold
Turn your mistake into an opportunity for learning. Once you have taken immediate actions, get a good night’s sleep. After the initial agony, reflect on what went wrong and what attitudes, thoughts, communication and actions caused the error. Identify what needs to change. Most big mistakes offer solid takeaways for you to strengthen your career and join the league of the successful.
HOW TO AVOID MISTAKES
Process is critical
If you are focused on concrete goals, chances are you will forget to take the right steps and miss your goal by a mile. Though you may have a deadline and numbers to achieve, keep your mind focused on building and getting processes right.
Feelings are not important
Giving importance to how you feel is unproductive. When you dwell excessively on temporary feelings, output suffers and you make bigger mistakes. Focus on the present and the small tasks you are engaged in. That leaves no space to think about negative stuff.
Life plans are not fixed
Obsessing about your life plan and how your career is doing leads to loss of attention and mistakes in the present. Plans are based on past information while circumstances change. Review your plan every few months and focus on doing well at work every day.
Don’t seek acceptance
Do not be concerned of what people think of you. Your colleagues are too busy worrying about their own careers. Seeking popularity and acceptance leads to mistakes at work. Choose to work on what makes you happy and in doing it really well.
Guilt wastes energy, time
Observe the inner voice criticising what you are doing and the guilt that follows a blunder. Both prevent you from taking corrective actions and right decisions. Get going with a task to restore your energy levels and to make productive use of your time.
Image Source Indiatimes.com