Okay, so you messed up - big time. Option 1: Hide in the bathroom. Option 2: Get back your good name. Here are tips on how to fix anything and move on.
GOOF 1: "I LOST SOMETHING REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT"
Stress increases your chances of losing something crucial or otherwise making a major, unfixable mistake. The key is to confess - immediately and succinctly. An admission of error and a willingness to work out a fail-safe plan for the next time, shows you`re a pro who cares about the quality of her work.
So, you should be ready to eat crow.
GOOF 2: "I SENT AN ANGRY E-MAIL TO THE WRONG PERSON"
Technology has a funny way of being your best friend - or your worst enemy. The convenience of e-mail makes misdirected messages surprisingly common. We tap them out automatically, almost without thinking (and often when we`re in the midst of umpteen other tasks). If you don`t want to see your heated prose posted on a company bulletin board, don`t send it out over e-mail. And if you can`t resist the urge to communicate something unkind about a boss or co-worker, keep the detail vague - and the names out.
Once the damage is done, you need to make diplomatic overtures. Apologise for being unprofessional. Explain calmly, what makes you so dissatisfied with your relationship -lack of supervision, the wrong assignments, no room to grow professionally or whatever. Focus on your goals. Then suggest a way you can improve your relationship, whether it`s touching base with monthly "career chats" or getting more opportunities to choose your own assignments. That helps turn your goof into a constructive plan for action.
GOOF 3: "I BLABBED AND NOW I`M IN BIG, BIG TROUBLE"
The people you work with value you for your talent - and your discretion. Use it; otherwise you`ll risk losing their trust. But sometimes you just blabbed and you are in a big mess.
If you can admit that your remarks were inappropriate and offer to make things right in time, your clients and/or your boss may see your indiscretion as a momentary slip, not a pattern which proves you can`t be trusted.
Of course, that doesn`t mean you should become a total hermit, either. Every manager knows that the office grapevine can be a useful early-warning system. But be careful when you share the information you`ve gleaned. When you`re a boss, you`re a role model, and there`s no easy fix for a breach of trust. Your best move is to say you`re sorry and explain your motives. If you`ve had a good track record about keeping confidence in the past, people are more likely to believe that you meant well.
GOOF 4: "I GOT CAUGHT JOB HUNTING"
Who hasn`t stolen a moment or two of office time to check out a promising job prospect? Have you been cruising the Internet job boards when your boss stopped by to chat?
In a red-hot job market, everyone knows their employees are free agents but no boss wants to be reminded of that. If your boss brings it up, don`t apologise. Instead, use this as a time to discuss what`s making you want to leave (for instance, too much work or not enough challenges). Your boss may well find ways to remedy the situation. The fact is, in a hot job market, it`s not such a bad thing to have your boss know you`ve got your eyes open; she may see you as a prize worth keeping.