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MENTOR - CAREER CLINIC

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Question...
Question

I made a mistake at work last week. I work in communications and some incorrect information slipped into our residents' magazine and we had to print an apology. My boss was fine but it is the first time I have made such an error and feel terrible - as a result my confidence feels sapped. How can I get back on track? How can I convince my boss that I am not a complete idiot?

Answer

I completely understand the situation you are in and I am sure this has happened to almost everyone at some point during their working lives. In terms of moving forward from this situation, you have already made the first step by recognising your mistake.

The first thing you need to do is to meet your manager to discuss what has happened. If possible, try to arrange this away from the office so that you won't be interrupted and have their full attention. You should explain how the incident has made you feel and that it is has affected your confidence. I would also suggest that you ask your manager how they feel about the incident and if they have any suggestions on what you can do to get yourself back on track. This should help you and your manager agree some actions to help you rebuild your lost confidence.

It is important that the discussion with your manager is open so do not be defensive or upset with the feedback you receive - see it as a way of improving your performance and avoiding a similar thing happening in the future. It may be that as a result of your discussion some training needs are identified which you can address over the coming months. I would also expect the discussion to give you a sense of perspective on your mistake so that you are able to put it behind you.

Just remember your boss was fine about what has happened and your mature approach to learn from the situation shows you are taking this seriously. I'm sure your boss does not think that you are an idiot, and will give you credit for the professional way you are dealing with it.

You need to now focus on building up your confidence and moving on from the experience.

Jan Parkinson

Strategic director, human resources, Gateshead Council

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