Just read this piece, about what you should do when you make a mistake and you've got some insane manager breathing down your neck for it. I thought you guys would find it interesting:

dan west's picture
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I stopped reading after this paragraph:

 Here's how you handle a madman in a tirade: you point to the sand-- and the line you put there.  You interrupt him, stop him dead in his tracks, and say this:  I absolutely messed this up, I accept it.  But let me be clear about something: I wasn't being lazy or sloppy-- I did what I thought was the correct thing, it was just wrong.  Ok, I accept that.  But the next part is this: if this is so important, why did no one notice it for two years?  My work is supposed to be monitored, right?  Ultimately, the junior partner is responsible for my work, right?  Did it not occur to anyone that this very important client of the general counsel's-- no one thought to ask, hey, where's blah blah blah?  What happened with blah blah blah?  Who was working on it?  Did they do X or Y?  No one checked up on this very important matter?

There is a lot wrong with the comment above. The most ridiculous of which is the suggestion that the employee pull others down with them. I can't disagree more with this thinking. Let's say it works and the employee get's out of the hot water. What next? The employee has alienated his entire management chain.

Do you think they are going to invest effort trying to grow that employee? Do you think the employee will get any prized assignments in the future? Would you, as the boss, take any chance assigning anything risky to this employee moving forward? Any good will is completely thrown out of the window. 

The first part of the advice is great. Accept culpability. You did it, own it. Don't try to pull half of the team down with you. The very next step should be to say something like this, "I apologize and I want to make this right. This is what I intend to do. Can you think of anything else I should be doing?" (I think there is a cast for apologizing.)

If you can show your boss that you are (1) accountable for your actions and (2) willing to make good on a mistake, you can come out of these bad situations looking much better. 

Blaming others is one of my pet peeves. It really hurts the entire team when this is allowed. I'll step off of my soap box now.


Mark's picture
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I hate it when psychiatrists apply theory to the workplace.  It's as if they've forgotten that others are addicted to food clothing and shelter.

Golf Sierra = Galactically Stupid.


RDHodgson's picture

Yeah, I didn't want to post this with too much comment lest I look like a bit of an idiot. I have to admit I was taken with it a bit. At least in a self-gratifying way, there is something right there. If you've got someone berating you for making a mistake in the past, that's only just now becoming apparent, then you have to ask: was it really that important to *you* whether I did it right or not? People slip up all the time, but I'm less likely to slip up if I know something's high priority, and I can pay it greater attention. 

But yeah, that doesn't help too much in the workplace. Although, if you have really got a boss who is so asinine, then it's probably a workplace you're better off (politely) leaving.