As bad ass as Serena Williams is, she's kind of the poster child for how not to handle stress on the job. Yesterday she mouthed off to a judge at the U.S. Open when a call didn't go her way, and it cost her the match.
We've all been known to drop the F-bomb every once in awhile, but luckily for us these slip-ups aren't usually filmed on national television- and we don't have to pay $10,000 for having a potty mouth. Here's how to deal when you screw up royally at work.
In a high-speed super-connected work world, it's easier than ever to mess up.
People have been blowing it on the job forever. But what makes today's mistakes so terrifying is how quickly they can morph into a major snafu. Think: the careless employee who in a mere second accidentally cc's a personal e-mail about her latest hookup to hundreds of coworkers. Or consider the assistant who forgets to let her boss know that a crucial video conference was rescheduled, causing her department to lose out on a megabucks contract. "New technology and the intense pace of most jobs allow staffers to blunder with bigger, more instant ramifications," says Ciulla.
Deal with it: Finger-pointing travels as fast as your mistake did. In other words, there's no place to hide in the fishbowl world we work in. So as soon as you realize your faux pas, offer an in-person apology to your boss as well as anyone else involved. A short "I'm so sorry, I totally dropped the ball" should do the trick. Hearing that you are apologetic, accept full responsibility, and understand the gravity of your gaffe will help you regain respect, says Ciulla. "Offer too many details or make excuses, however, and you'll come off as immature," she adds.
Your inexperienced boss can't make a decision and doesn't know how to delegate - and it's starting to affect your reputation.
"Because employee turnover is so high these days and promoting from within is cheaper and easier, it's increasingly common for businesses to turn lower-level workers into managers before they have the right leadership skills," says McDermott. And though you'd think a younger boss would be less of a hard-ass and more relatable, her lack of experience often leaves her creating a general sense of disorder and confusion. Find out how some work habits can hurt you.
Deal with it: Put yourself in her shoes for a moment: After only a few years in her field, she's already under pressure from her higher-ups to do a stellar job while being responsible for lowerlevel staffers who may not quite know the ropes. No wonder she's struggling.
"Once you get where she's coming from, arrange an informal meeting, like lunch out of the office," says McDermott. There, tell her you want the company to be a success and you have a few questions about how you can help her make that happen. Bring up specific issues by framing them as your problem, for example "I'm confused about..." By putting the onus on yourself, she will be more apt to suggest solutions that benefit both of you. "Plus, she'll see you as an ally, and workplaces are more productive when staffers feel they're on the same side," she adds.
Your workplace is a cross between The Apprentice and Survivor
A healthy dose of competition can push you to accomplish great things. But these days, the younger staffers who are your peers are more likely to be downright cutthroat. One possible reason for the ruthlessness: Thanks to self-esteem-enhancing praise and a sense of entitlement while growing up, lots of today's 20-somethings expect to be moguls by the time they're 30. And they don't see anything wrong with playing hardball to reach their goal.
Deal with it: You can actually lighten the vibe by practicing random acts of kindness in the workplace - for example, helping out a coworker with a deadline or covering someone's shift last minute. "Doing small yet significant things can create a ripple effect of goodwill," says Ciulla.
And even though the ultracompetitiveness is a recent phenomenon, some old-fashioned solutions can help dilute it. "Weekly happy-hour outings or a monthly lunch to celebrate the end of a deadline can build a sense of community," says Moses. "If no one is excluded and you make sure the get-together doesn't turn into a gripe session, it'll reinforce the idea that everyone is on the same team and there's no reason for hostility."
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