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Damage Control: Fixing Your Image After You’ve Screwed Up

Mar 2, 2020 | 7m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • Typical mistakes that happen in the workplace, and how to cope with them
  • Why office romances need not signal the end of one of your career prospects
  • Communicating appropriately when things go wrong


When Mistakes Happen

Mistakes happen. But how you cope with the aftermath – whether you’ve made the mistake, or are managing someone else who has – is what you should now focus on.

Mistakes can range in their level of severity and impact. It could be a case of drinking too much at an office gathering and passing an untoward comment or two, blowing a pitch and losing a key client, or even a bad hiring decision. Your response to these mistakes will be very situational, and should take into account that the people involved are probably feeling embarrassed or worried about their actions.

Hiring Decisions

Errors in judgement can sometimes be on the hiring level. As a HR person, I’m always watching the body language of colleagues in the room. Wrong hires are sometimes easy to spot. If people roll their eyes or switch off when a person is talking, it shows that the speaker isn’t really having the impact that they are likely aiming for with the team. Those non-verbal cues are also a form of feedback to consider. Then, there’s the individual themselves, who is displaying clear signs of not being a good fit.

Now that you’ve realised that you’ve made the wrong hire, what next? Most people make the mistake of trying to make it work just to keep their headcount, and the budget for that headcount. They’d rather have the person performing at suboptimal levels because they’re scared of losing that 20% of what’s actually working. They may be holding the view that “a warm body is better than nobody”.

However, this isn’t fair to the individual nor to the team. The 20% that’s working with the wrong hire might end up having a 80% negative influence on others in the team. You’re better off being decisive and having these conversations earlier on before the friction increases. Be respectful about it. Explain to them clearly about areas that need improvement, communicate expectations, set timelines, and manage accordingly.

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