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Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery

Judy, a marketing director at a large international corporation, made an error in judgment that cost the company $1 million. She thought long and hard about what had happened. When she walked into the president’s office, she was expecting to be fired immediately. Instead he said, “I just spent $1 million on your development. Why would I fire you?”


We all make mistakes at work—it’s only human. But how do you pick up the pieces and save face, especially when the error is a whopper? Stepping back and asking yourself some questions can help direct your thoughts in effective ways. Andrea Zintz helps you remain C A L M after a disaster.


What do you do immediately?
Use the
C A L M approach…


Discreetly remove yourself to a quiet place where you can regain your composure and get some distance. Try taking a few deep breaths. Sharing the incident with a trusted friend or colleague can help you gain perspective and get some preliminary advice. Don’t try to fix anything right away or attempt to make hasty judgments in your horrified and heightened emotional state—that will only exacerbate the situation.


Accept responsibility
Whether it was entirely your fault or only partially, you had a hand in the error—the most mature thing you can do is own the mistake, put an end to the whole blame game and let everyone get back to work.


The greatest thing you can take from the mistake is a lesson for the future. Determine what you will do differently next time around so you won’t make the same mistake again. To help navigate this step, ask yourself what was missing in your thinking that might have brought about the error.


 Make a plan and then Move forward
Think about the best way, place, and time to approach your supervisor and bring him/her up-to-date. Try to remain clear and level-headed as you discuss the situation—acting hysterical will only emphasize the problem. Present your boss with a well-thought out plan of action including your suggestions on how to best mitigate the damage. The following questions will help as you strategize your clean-up:


  • What does my supervisor need to know about the situation?
  • What are some scenarios that might play out in our conversation? How would I react to each one?


Now that you’ve accepted responsibility and alerted everyone to the situation it’s time to let it go and move on. However, be aware there can be consequences to your action—you are going to need to work on rebuilding trust. Consider these questions when developing strategies for dealing with people who may now be wary of your work:


  • When I have lost trust in another person what have they done to successfully rebuild trust with me?
  • How is credibility built at my company and what actions can I take that align with this?


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