Monday, February 05, 2007

What Should You Do When You Screw Up at Work?

Work screw ups are bad all the way around. First, you feel bad and kind of stupid when you make them. Then, you get chewed out by your boss, which makes it even worse. What is the best way to handle it once you mess up on the job? I found this useful report on

You didn't seal the deal. You lost a big client. You made an accounting error that cost your company thousands of dollars. Whatever the case is, you blew it. And your boss and everyone you work with know it.
So, now what? Use these tips to get into and get over what you did wrong.
1. Own it.
While many of us would prefer to forget our mistakes, initially you need to acknowledge to your supervisor and everyone involved that you're accepting responsibility for what went wrong. If you do this right (that is, seriously and sincerely), you'll only have to do it once.
2. Take the heat.
You may get teased by from coworkers for a long time to come. Accept gentle ribbing with a wink and a smile. However, don't take blatant abuse from someone who can't get past what happened. If a colleague's teasing becomes taunting, speak with your supervisor and a human resources representative.
3. Don't beat yourself up.
It does no good to dwell on your mistakes, which can lead to doubting your competence. "This type of thinking is actually self-destructive and only serves to hamper future effectiveness," says Liz Bywater, president of Bywater Consulting Group, a Philadelphia-based firm focused on optimizing organizational performance. "Remember: Failure is not in the falling down but in the staying down."
4. Learn from the past.
Solicit advice from your boss and trusted associates to help you analyze what went wrong and how you might've avoided the error entirely. Go back in the process as long as is necessary; however, be careful to avoid blaming anyone else, despite what you may uncover. Just learn from your own mistakes.
5. Keep it in perspective.
Seek a broad view of your career and accomplishments. "Chances are, you've experienced at least as many successes as failures," Bywater says. "It's the successes that deserve your greatest attention. Learn from them and continue to build upon your strengths."
6. Move on.
You've apologized. You've taken your lumps. You've analyzed where you went wrong. Now, it's time to move on. Don't raise the topic of your mistake again. Your boss and coworkers want to move past this as much you do; continue to look to the future and don't allow your career or day-to-day performance to be marred by one error.

1 comment:

Tim Hartnett said...

I have kissed my supervisor's ass so many times my lips are bleeding.