Diplomacy and honesty are your best defences, "Gulf News"
9 June, 2012 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Nobody is perfect. People make all sorts of career faux pas all the time, from embarrassing their boss in a meeting, mismanaging an important task, to triggering a legal suit against the whole company or accidentally leaking a file that can bring down a business.
Even celebrities, CEOs and influential political figures are not immune to career-limiting mistakes. Consider Martha Stewart, the homemaking diva who went to prison over a stock sale. Then there is former United States senator Chester Trent Lott who was forced out on racism charges.
“Everybody makes mistakes, and the result of that mistake has serious consequences for your firm,” notes Toby Simpson, managing director of The Gulf Recruitment Group.
Whatever it is that you’ve done wrong, bear in mind that a misstep does not mean it’s the end of the world. While it’s difficult to maintain a clean streak, there are things you can do to recover from a major blunder, reclaim your lost reputation and ensure you are able to move forward in your career.
Experts say your best defence is diplomacy and honesty. Keeping a hardline stance and a false façade will not do any help.
“I would suggest that the employee — whether directly or through a friend/supporter — diplomatically arrange for a meeting of those concerned and attempt to diffuse the situation and admit to making mistakes,” advises Amjed Shacker, country manager for Saudi Arabia at Pedersen and Partners, an international executive search firm.
“People prefer making amends with others than continuing on with confrontation. It takes a diplomat to undo damage. Experience shows that once the business/working relationship is restored to normalcy, more times than not it becomes much stronger than before.”
Shacker observes that one of the career-limiting moves people often make is refusing to budge. Many employees also fall into the trap of jumping ship or getting out the door too soon.
“Rookies usually insist on sticking to their guns to prove a point as well as assert themselves. Being flexible is an attitude- based trait. Those lacking such a characteristic are often taught so by life — the hard way,” he says.
“Jumping ship too soon is a trap quite a large number of professionals fall into. In recent years, people have changed jobs at a much faster pace than bygone times for a myriad of reasons, mainly higher compensation,” he adds.
Some employees try to make up for their mistakes and repay the damage caused by redoubling their efforts. But if that doesn’t work in your favour, or if the trust has been irreparably damaged, Simpson suggests the only solution is to leave the company.
“When moving, though, be honest about why you are moving, as when this is found out at a later date, you will have automatically damaged the trust in both your old and new employer,” he says.
While nobody is perfect, you can limit your chances of doing something that can jeopardise your career prospects. The key is to stop the mistake before it happens. So the next time you feel you’re at a crossroads or faced with any tough choices, it is best to seek out other people’s advice.
“One should consult with or ask a colleague, a friend, a parent or any person outside the work environment. Getting a fresh perspective on work, or even personal issues, is akin to getting a fresh set of eyes to look at something and provide a second, unbiased opinion,” advises Amjed Shacker of Pedersen and Partners.
Employees are always encouraged to be honest with the people around them about their career objectives, but that doesn’t mean you should open your mouth every time you feel like it.
“Sometimes, being too honest can be both costly and disastrous. Be professionally honest with those around you in the workplace, but leave your personal opinions at home,” says Toby Simpson of The Gulf Recruitment Group.
And, if you’re in a leadership position, don’t hesitate to lead. After all, Simpson says, “action of any kind is frequently better than no action at all”.
Written by Cleofe Maceda for Gulf News