Be upfront when errors happen at work - East Valley Tribune: Business

Be upfront when errors happen at work

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Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 8:18 pm | Updated: 4:54 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Mistakes happen, even in the workplace. But how you handle those mistakes may be the difference between keeping a good impression with your co-workers and employers, and a sudden desire to find a new job.

Provided you haven’t done something that you can be fired for – stealing funds, intentional property destruction or incompetent work performance – there are ways to come clean with those you work with.

If you work with company equipment outside the office – say you have a laptop computer or a cell phone – and your child gets a hold of it and puts it in the bathtub, it’s best to be honest right away with your employers. And it’s best to offer to pay.

“First and foremost, you need to be upfront with your employer and let them know what happened. The key here is to take responsibility. A similar situation recently happened to me. I addressed the issue head-on and even offered to replace the equipment - they understood and there weren’t any problems! Here’s the key: If you don’t level with the employer, in time it will come back to haunt you - then your integrity will really be in question,” said Kevin Tucker, managing director of C-Cubed Career Consulting & Coaching.

If the error happened as part of your work duties– you lost an account or missed a deadline, the best way to address this is to get back on top right away, said Ron Gaschler, director of Career & Educational Planning, Career & Re-Entry Services at Mesa Community College.

“Results communicate a lot in these situations. A lack of results is negative. However, the quickest way to redemption would be to show results, whether it be in the underperforming area or in some other area. It is important to secure early wins when turning around poor performance. It may be a good idea for the employee to look at areas they are confident they can produce results in and focus some energy there to secure a quick win,” Gaschler said.

Betty Boza, career counselor and owner of Renaissance Career Services, says the only way to address and inform your employer of a mistake is to do it with honesty.

“The old adage, ‘honesty is the best policy,’ can be applied whenever there is an unmet expectation of a goal. There is no justifiable reason to hide or ignore an obvious mistake or error in judgment. Communication is one of the most valued skills an employee can possess. It is best to discuss the situation openly with everyone involved in the task or project, including your supervisor and co-workers. If there are internal or external customers impacted by this error, keep them apprised of how you are planning to remedy the situation.

“You will maintain your credibility and trustworthiness and gain everyone’s respect. More importantly, seize this opportunity to learn from your mistakes. You may want to conduct a post-event meeting with your team members to list the things that went well, identify the oversights, and brainstorm possible solutions. In the future, remember to utilize your communication skills throughout a task or project to stay on top of its progress and solicit constructive feedback regarding challenges and possible solutions to avoid making the same costly mistakes,” she said.

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East Valley Job Fair

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When: EVIT, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa

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