Well, Allison Green has written an article entitled, How to Rebuild Your Credibility After Messing Up at Work. I hope that you do not need this advice, but if you do here it is.
When you really mess up at work, you can harm your reputation and relationships with managers and co-workers. Of course, everyone make minor mistakes, but the ones that concern us most are the significant mistakes. If you are lucky, you may have a manager or team leader who is understanding, empathetic and is willing to coach you. Serious mistakes may go beyond the authority of your manager and affect the reputation and financial condition of the organization.
Although it may feel like you are in a hole from which you can never extricate yourself, Allison’s recommendations can help. Three of her recommendations resonate with me but you can also link to the original article.
Here are my top 3:
1. Acknowledge what happened. When you mess up, talking about it might be the last thing you feel like doing. But how you take responsibility for what happened will be one of the biggest elements in the impression it leaves on people. Immediately admit what happened, and don’t make excuses or get defensive. Use words such as, “I really screwed this up” and “I get what a big deal this it.” In fact, the more concerned you seem, the less your boss is likely to feel that she needs to impress the severity of the mistake on you.
2. Communicate. You might be tempted to just keep your head down and avoid your boss, because you might be nervous about talking with her or getting feedback on your work. That’s the worst instinct you can have in this situation. If your boss does have serious concerns about you, going underground will exacerbate them. Keeping open lines of communication and talking to her about the good work you’re doing will help mitigate the concerns that were raised earlier.
3. Don’t panic. When you know you’ve really screwed up, you might naturally panic or obsess about how you’re now seen. But to the extent you can, it’s important to put this behind you mentally, because dwelling on it will often keep you in a tense mental space where you’re more likely to mess up again – the opposite of what you want. Try not to obsess over the mistake too much, and remember that most people who make mistakes at work – even big ones – aren’t fired for them.
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