Screw-ups at Work: The Recovery

Everyone’s done it at one time or another. You’ve made a mistake at work and the ripple effect is getting larger. Maybe your colleagues have noticed your error. Perhaps your boss, too. Worst of all is when an effect of your screw-up threatens to harm the reputation of your organisation outside the office’s own four walls.

There’s no single cookie-cutter method to reverse a mistake, but the best advice to help you recover from a mistake is simple: admit your mistake, solve the problem and move on.

How to Recover from Work Screw-Ups involving Your Boss

The worst work screw-up you can make is forgetting to follow the direct instructions of your boss. This may lead to your boss being terribly disappointed in you. Your boss is your leader and you’re supposed to follow his directions. If you fail to do so, it will make your boss feel as though he or she has failed.

By failing to garner your respect for both himself or herself and the company, your boss may perceive a decrease in your value as an employee of the organisation. If you’ve forgotten to attend a meeting that was called and scheduled by your boss, go straight to him or her and admit the mistake yourself. You can briefly explain why the oversight happened but don’t start making excuses.

The main thing is to own up to your mistake and assure your boss that you won’t miss a meeting again. Did you overshoot your deadline? If “yes”, then let your boss or supervisor know right away. After all, you don’t want him or her to waste time waiting for you. That would set the boss back even more. After you finally make your late submission, offer to make up for the extra time you needed by taking on extra work.

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Were you caught (red-handed!) for taking a day’s sick leave even though you weren’t actually ill?

Perhaps your boss was let in on your secret by a colleague or even saw you himself or herself while attending a particular event. It seems that bosses eventually do find out in any case when employees lie about sick leave through photos on social media or some other way.

That’s why it’s best, to tell the truth before the workplace rumours reach your boss’ ears. Recognise your misstep and mention that you will prove your dedication to your work in the coming week. If you took a sick day to go to an interview for another job and your boss found out, apologise for being deceitful.

If you haven’t actually deceived your boss but were up-front about going to a new job interview, simply explain the reason for the interview with your boss. This will help relieve the awkward atmosphere between you and your boss. He or she might even make you a better offer than what a new job would provide!

How to Recover from Work Screw-ups in front of the whole Office

You just made a huge mistake that cost the entire organisation a lot of time, effort, profit and/or resources. Meet with your task supervisor or your boss and ensure him or her that you understand your mistake. Suggest solutions to make up for the losses. Meet with all the members of the workplace team personally, letting them know that you are deeply sorry for all the fallout from your screw-up.

The best place to do this would be away from the workplace, perhaps treating them to food and beverages. If the only solution is to re-do everything, then help every single person affected by your mistake.

Drinking alcohol with your colleagues at a work event or while apologising for an earlier mistake can lead to excessive imbibing. A few too many drinks can lead to your being the centrepiece of a drunken scene in front of almost all your colleagues. The next morning you wake up with a horrible hangover and a creepy, repulsive guy from work lying next to you.

Such behaviour can ruin your reputation in the workplace. It’s hard to feel that anyone can take you seriously in the aftermath of such an event. If this ever happens to you, get rid of your hangover with a hearty breakfast, lots of fluids, a cup of extra-strong black coffee and an Advil. Once the hangover is gone, get to your workplace as close to starting time as possible and apologise to your supervisor/employer for your inappropriate behaviour.

How To Recover From Your Work Screw-ups and Solve Your Mistakes

Mention that it will never happen again as you will strictly control your alcohol intake at all future events. It’s actually highly recommended that you avoid alcohol at any and all work events. Order non-alcoholic drinks that look like alcohol instead. For instance, water with ice cubes and a slice of lemon can be made to look like a vodka tonic if you give a little hint to the bartender. You will be amazed at what you get!

Did you happen to ruin the professionalism that your organisation attempted to convey at a startup meeting by wearing funky clothes? If so, just put on a confident air and mention how you wore similar attire at a previous startup meeting, and you didn’t know about the change for this one. You can prevent such a situation in future by keeping a set of cool casual attire and a set of professional attire in your car or your office closet at all times.

How to Recover from Work Screw-ups with A Co-worker

Have you ever badmouthed a co-worker and your words somehow reached his or her ears? You might have sent a chain message, or maybe someone snitched on you. You can help mend the situation by personally meeting up with the person you badmouthed.

Let him or her know that you said a lot of meaningless things in the heat of the moment and that you regret doing so. Offer your sincere apologies for inviting your colleague to a restaurant or preparing a home-cooked meal.

If you’re forgiven that’s a great outcome, but if not, then give the person some time and space. After a while, try to rebuild your relationship with him or her.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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