How to handle workplace blunders

Everyone makes mistakes at work, but most of us do it out of the spotlight. When umpire Jim Joyce blew a call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game on June 2, he messed up on a very public stage. The game was on television and then his blunder was replayed for days on almost every broadcast outlet there is.

Upon seeing the replay after the game, Joyce admitted his mistake, apologized to Galarraga and faced the press with courage and aplomb. Because Joyce owned up to his error, and also due to Galarraga’s classy reaction to the play, much of the fallout has been positive for both men. Joyce was even voted the best umpire in Major League Baseball in an ESPN the Magazine poll of 100 players.

While this story has a happy ending, workplace gaffes don’t always end so well. Some result in reprimands, others result in firings, and sometimes companies lose money or accounts.

Most experts say it’s best to admit mistakes, learn from them and move on. Understanding bosses respect that approach; bad managers may not.

What’s the most embarrassing mistake you’ve ever made at work? How did you handle it? How did your boss react? What were the repercussions of your blunder?

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3 comments Add your comment

Jimmy Hoffa's Bodyguard

June 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

I took my eyes off the boss for one second….

JimmyH

June 15th, 2010
4:18 pm

I hired that schlub for a bodyguard. It’s nice down here in the end zone though…

Bruce

June 15th, 2010
4:20 pm

I accidentally sent an off-color joke to the entire office of over 200 staff while it was intended for one co-worker. It got quite a laugh by those who read it. Luckily, the entire management team was away that day for an offsite meeting and I managed to immediatelty purge it from the system. Needless to say, since that incident, I am much more careful when sending work or personal e-mails.