Steve Blue, was running a very successful division of a global conglomerate when suddenly the company decided to eliminate his division. Suddenly he was out of a job. The restructuring had nothing to do with him. Although at the time he thought he should have been the guy running the consolidated divisions, in hindsight he recognizes that “the other guy was a better choice.” Blue was given the option of taking another executive position. Instead of blaming the organization or feeling down, he accepted the decision and was able to move forward building a very successful career for himself. So when something bad happens at work Blue advises: “Dust yourself off and move on.”
We all have setbacks in our careers. Sometimes they are the result of mistakes we make and sometimes they have nothing to do with us. When that happens, what should you do?
If you make a mistake, most experts agree that it is best to admit the mistake to your boss and offer a proposed solution. Attorney Lynda L. Hinkle’s advice is representative. “If someone comes to me with an error, they are in the best light when they accept responsibility, apologize [and] come in with a proposed solution.” Hiding a mistake only magnifies it, she notes. “It’s always best to come clean, take ownership and let the team work with you to resolve [the problem].”
TheLadders’ job search expert, Amanda Augustine, suggests that if you think you have made a mistake at work, stop for a moment and reflect. “Before you jump into action,” she suggest “take a step back and consider what happened.” Leave emotion at the door and review the event objectively. Fix the problem if you can. Then she suggests taking additional actions to demonstrate your value to the organization. “There is no better way to boost your brand than to succeed in your next projects and demonstrate your professionalism in other situations you face.”
When it comes to setbacks at work, you are often your own worst enemy.If you fail to put them behind you, your mistakes will continue to haunt you. Jessica Campbell, the Voices.com’s Human Resources Manager, notes that one risks creating a negative perception of oneself by dwelling on a mistake after the problem has been resolved. “The key for overcoming mistakes and failures at work,” she states, “is just that – to overcome them and move on.” Typically the issue will cease to be a problem for you, if you treat it that way and do not ever bring it up again.
Guy Winch, author of the recently released book “Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejections, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, “points out that we learn more from our failures than our successes. Understanding failure enables one to achieve future success. Our mistakes are often systematic Analyzing and adjusting behaviors that are holding us back, can remove impediments to success.
In order to identify our weaknesses and blind spots, Winch advises us to become “failure detectives.” Think like a detective analyzing a “failure crime scene.” To find clues as to how the failure occurred, Winch suggests examining the following usual suspects:
Poor Planning: Did you spend sufficient time planning how to achieve the goal? Ask yourself how a more methodical person would have approached the planning phase.
Inadequate Preparation: Putting aside whether your planning was adequate, how well prepared were you? In what ways could you have improved your preparation? Could better preparation have increased your confidence?
Weak Execution: How well thought out was your approach? How consistent was your effort? Were you monitoring your progress, motivation, and mindset? Did you make any adjustments once you spotted a problem and if not, why not?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, make a list of the issues that you need to pay attention to going forward, he advises.
A friend of mine, Bonnie St John, an amputee that went on to be a silver medal at the 1984 Winter Paralympics, frequently talks about what she learned from that experience. She was ahead in the slalom. In the second run, everyone, including her, fell down at a particular dangerous spot. She got up and finished the run. She was beaten, however by a woman who got up faster. From that experience she learned that “people fall down, winners get up; gold medal winners just get up faster.”
Everyone makes mistake and has setbacks at work. Success, however, comes to those that learn from their mistakes and do not let their failure and setbacks deter them.
A veteran human resources executive, Lee E. Miller is a career coach and the author of “UP: Influence Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want.” Mail questions to Lee@employability-expert.com