Mistakes happen. While there are ways to rectify them, a research by VitalSmarts reveals that 69% employees have admitted to making personally committing blunders which have damaged their careers.
The Study by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, authors of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations, found out that 31% said it cost them a pay increase, a promotion or their job, about 27% said it undercut or destroyed the working relationship and 11% said it destroyed their reputation.
While employees are now waking up to the mistakes in CVs which might have cost their jobs, or even how mid-level executives make blunders during interviews, and also employers are not devoid of making hiring mistakes, the problem is when the damage is done, you cannot do anything about it, save and except, salvage it to some extent. This is where the skills of the employees will matter. How to undo the damage or the mistake.
The common blunders which damaged employees reputation or career in some way are: Not being able to handle honest feedback (23%), your private comments been made public by colleagues (21%), remarks on race, sex, politics or even religion where your colleagues/co-workers misunderstood you and used it against you (20%), and about 20% were when an employee lost his/her temper and made obscene remarks to make a point. About 10% accidentally share something harmful by ‘Reply All’ or with any online tools. And the remaining 6% are really unfortunate when their comments are taken otherwise.
Apart from the lack of skills of the employees who cannot salvage the damage, the survey also said that about 46% employees feel that their organizations don’t allow room for any error, even unintentionally. Creating the kind of environment at work where employees can speak without being judged is one of the solutions offered by the study. “Often, people speak up about issues they see as important to the business only to be punished for their honesty—even if it is controversial. Instead of punishing employees’ candor, leaders need to build the kind of culture where anyone can safely speak up to anyone else, regardless of power or position. And in those times when they may step out of line, there should be a plan that allows them to recover and get back on track,” said Grenny.
The Study also offers 3 tips to recover from those catastrophic blunders which can, in a way, save careers, improve relationships and provide results.
The blunder: You said something that was just wrong, rude or completely inappropriate
What you need to do: Render an apology. However, the tip is not just to say ‘I am Sorry’ to your colleague or your boss. The admission of guilt should be done in front of others so that they understand your heartfelt regret.
The blunder: You said something that was right, but it came across wrong
What you need to do: It is a complex situation since you are right but your message was taken in the wrong spirit. There are three steps that you need to take in this case – acknowledge that your message sounded as offensive as others took it to be. And don’t move to step two until they’re satisfied; Then step two is say what you really think on the topic in the way you should have said it; and then repeat step one.
The blunder: You said something you believe, but that you shouldn’t have said in your position
What you need to do: Apologize for the opinion since it’s not the opinion of your organization. And you must apologize as though you don’t believe what you said. “This could sound disingenuous, but it’s not. It isn’t ‘you’ that’s apologizing, it’s your position. So your apology is righting the real wrong—your irresponsible lapse of judgment in realizing you don’t get to represent your company in any way you see fit.”
So, even if you have made disastrous mistakes, you still can make things work for you -- but it's not going to be easy. If you have faced similar situations, do share it with us.