Epic Fail: How to Handle Mess ups at Work Like a Boss

Epic FailI totally messed up at work the other day. An epic fail.

Well, I messed up on one of my blogging gigs, which is still work for me. When I work with clients on sponsored posts, I have deadlines and deliverables. Posts have to be published, and they usually have to be shared on social media, too.

So the other day, I got an e-mail asking me why I hadn’t submitted my post links.

My heart sank, I got all sweaty, my heart started pounding, and I felt like a total loser because I forgot to write my post. That’s right, just totally forgot about it.

But you know what? It taught me something.

It obviously taught me that I need to freaking look at my assignment schedule, but it also taught me how to handle work mess ups like a total boss.

Here’s how you do that:

1. Apologize! Make Sure That it’s Clear That You Are Sorry

First of all, you have to be sorry. Like, really really sorry. You have to feel bad about it, and you have to make sure that your boss or your client or your customer knows that. So what did I do? I e-mailed my client and I started off my e-mail with how sorry I was.

2. Don’t Offer Excuses. Just Be Honest and Own up to Your Failure

I could have then continued to tell my client that I had a family emergency. I could have told her that my cat almost got hit by a car or that my nonexistent child was in the emergency room. I could have said that my computer erased all my files and that I’d been at the Apple store all morning. There are a million things I could have told her, some that she may actually have believed, but you know what I told her?

I told her that I was so sorry, it was  inexcusable and I don’t know how it happened, but I totally just forgot about it. Because that was the truth. I sucked. I failed. It was my fault. But you know what? That’s okay sometimes, and it’s definitely a lot better than playing the blame game. No one likes that game, and when you play it, you end up looking like an idiot.

3. Do Whatever You Can to Fix It

So once you’ve acknowledged that you messed up, do whatever you can to fix it. Ask the person you’re trying to reconcile with, “What can I do to fix this?” At the very least, it shows that you care enough to try to make things better, and most of the time, there IS stuff you can do to fix it. So in my case, I asked if I could still submit my post. I even offered to increase my social media amplification from 4 shares to 8 shares.

I didn’t just say “Sorry, bye.” Instead, I made an effort to remedy the situation.

4. Accept the Consequences of Your Mistakes

You screwed up. It happens. We’re human! And while sometimes there IS something you can do to fix it, other times you can’t. So even though I asked my client if I could still submit my post, I also told them that I fully understood if they didn’t need anymore. What would that mean, exactly? It would mean I lost some money. It would mean I very likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with them again in the future.

But if that happened, it was my own fault, so I’d have to accept that.

5. Learn from It and Don’t Let It Happen Again

I was lucky, and my client was super awesome, so you know what she told me? She told me they’d still accept it. Whewwww! I got lucky there! It really could have gone either way. But regardless, when you mess up at work, the important part is that you learn something, like I did, and you do everything you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

And that my friends is how you handle mistakes like a BOSS.

Has this kind of epic fail ever happened to you? Any other good advice on how to handle workplace mistakes? Let me know!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Lost Gen Y Girl.





About the Author: Kayla Cruz graduated college at the age of 20 with a degree in Health Services Administration. She is currently working as a Regulatory Coordinator in Clinical Research while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration specializing in Human Resources. She has found she’s most passionate about helping young professionals navigate through their first few years as GenYers in the workforce. Follow Kayla on Twitter!



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