I Screwed Up. Now What?

I recently received a note from a client who had turned in a (self-described) “sub par work product.” 

Despite the fact that this was an aberration his boss was having trouble letting it go.

My client’s question to me was: How can we move on?

On the off chance some of you may have had similar experiences, the advice I gave him is below:

1.  I would begin by saying: “I’ve been giving some thought to what occurred with my work product last week and I wanted to reassure you I will make every effort to ensure it does not occur again.” 

The important thing here is that you didn’t apologize. Why is this important? Because apologizing after the fact leaves your boss in the position of having to reassure you (Or not…either way, one of you is going to end up being uncomfortable….) and he shouldn’t be doing clean up. Your work was the problem, you do the clean up.

2:  I would go on to say, “I would like to ask you if you have any strategies for moving forward that you think would be helpful to me.”

The nice thing here is that the word “strategy” is, well, strategic. The conversation can remain in a clinical place: a place most people feel comfortable.

3. I would close with, “Thank you so much. Your opinions are extremely valuable to me.”

Why does this work? Well, who doesn’t like to hear others take their opinion seriously?

I know I do—and I’m guessing your boss is going to like it, too. At which point, you can both move on.

Frances Jones Cole signature