Let’s face it: At one point or another, you’re going to fail in some way at your job. It could be something major such as missing a deadline, or something as minor as being five minutes late to work. No matter the magnitude, it’s going to happen. Once you accept that, the real question becomes how you fail, i.e. how you handle it.
There are two ways you can handle failure: You can either crash and burn or you can glide to safety. Obviously, the second path is the road you want to take. To do this, you need to keep three things in mind when you fail:
Don’t panic: As a basic rule of thumb, panicking will never help you in any situation. When you panic, you’re more than likely going to make whatever happened worse because you’re not thinking clearly. For instance, if you are late to work and you start panicking, you could make yourself even more late. This could happen if you do something drastic like try a “shortcut” that ends up being a wrong turn, costing you time. Always stay calm and think logically about what you are doing. This is the only way to minimize your problems.
Have a “Get Well” plan: The only thing worse than failing at something is to not have a plan on how to fix it. This plan is sometimes referred to as a Get Well Plan in the corporate world. It can be likened to the set of steps a doctor takes to make a patient better. For example, if you know you are going to miss a deadline, come up with a plan to make up for it. This should be a detailed plan with specific steps to put your project back on track. Even seasoned professionals will miss a deadline now and then, it’s how you fix that problem that will stand out in people’s minds.
Don’t play the “Blame Game”: When confronted with failure, many people feel like they’re backed into a corner, especially at work. This causes them to lash out and start trying to pin the reason for the failure on anyone else but themselves. This is commonly referred to as playing the Blame Game. While it may be true that you are not the only reason something went wrong, you don’t want to attack other people. For instance, saying that you didn’t get something done because “John is stupid” is far less effective than saying, “The pre-requisite designs were not completed on time, so that pushed back the code deadline.” In this way, you are explaining that you were not the only one at fault but not personally attacking anyone, you’re just stating facts. If you just state the facts, there’s not much room to argue.
The three points above boil down to the following premise: Approach the situation calmly and logically, have a detailed way to fix whatever went wrong, and take responsibility when it’s your fault (and when it’s not your fault, stick to the facts, and don’t get personal).
Remember: Being able to fail successfully is just as important as actually succeeding.
Article Author: Kevin Augustine