How to save your job after a gaffe

Some people seem to be bullet-proof and can save their jobs, if not their reputations, after the worst or even multiple mistakes.This kind of smart/slippery character may be naturally blessed with the instincts to survive any blunder, but you don’t have to be a politician to survive.There are certain things you can do to help negate the effect of clangers you might accidentally make at work. Firstly, if the worst happens and the mistake was yours, own up and apologise.

It is important you don’t blame others, especially anyone you work with closely, as you may well need their support to help survive the incident. You will also gain respect for having the strength to admit your mistake.What you do next is equally important to successfully keeping you in employment.

No matter how the gaffe came about, it is vital that you know how you will put the situation right and what you will do to ensure it never happens again. Then you will be associated with a solution, not just a problem. This needs to be presented in a genuine and calm manner – it won’t help if you come across as someone in a panic. If your mistake was undeniably a one-off, I suggest you highlight that as a secondary point, but keep the emphasis very much on your future actions.Assuming these steps go well and you are given the opportunity to keep your job and make amends, it is obviously key to start making the necessary changes immediately – the worst thing you could do at this stage would be to sit back and relax. Your employer must see you are serious about keeping your job and have turned over a new leaf.

Of course, gaffes come in many guises, and clearly some will be more substantial than others. Usually the amount of work required to atone for a mistake will relate to its size, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, for example, a simple mistake such as pressing ‘reply to all’ instead of ‘reply to sender’ in an email could cause as much trouble as something which has accumulated over six months, depending on what is said and who is involved.In fact, the most annoying mistakes involving communication could usually quite easily be avoided. Clearly, passing on information correctly and on time is crucial to any business – it’s never acceptable to get a client’s name wrong or forget to deliver a message to a colleague — and it’s those kinds of preventable mistakes that are liable to give you a bad name.

Double-checking work and taking simple steps, like treating emails as carefully as you would a written letter, ensure your communication and presentation will always be accurate and professional.My final piece of advice is to try to avoid having to do any of this, by preventing nightmare scenarios from happening in the first place. If you take your work seriously and are hard-working and efficient, whatever your profession, you will probably not only do a good job and earn the respect of your colleagues and employers but are also much less likely to slip up. While it’s true that these tips and a good work record could help you survive after making a gaffe once, it’s clearly not something you should make a habit of. After all, it’s your job and professional reputation at stake and there are limits to any employer’s goodwill.

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