Repairing 3 Major Office Blunders
We asked a local HR guru what to do when you make a misstep at the workplace.
Let’s face it, serious slip-ups often occur at the office, and sometimes you need to do some damage control. Luba Sydor, founder and CEO of White Plains-based staffing firm Person2Person LLC, has some sage advice when it comes to patching up these three common mistakes.
Becoming overly intoxicated at an office event
The fix: Abject mortification is your best bet here. Don’t wait for your boss to approach you about it; go to him/her immediately afterward, proactively, and say something like: “I’m mortified about my behavior the other night. I didn’t realize that I’d had one too many, but clearly I did. I’m so sorry, and I’m not going to be drinking at any company events in the future.” If there’s anyone else whom you may have offended or annoyed, it wouldn’t hurt to say something similar to them, as well. Then, you really do need to abstain from drinking at company events for a long while. Also, I’d look for opportunities in the near future to be particularly impressive, polished, and professional.
Developing an intimate relationship with a superior or subordinate
The fix: It’s widely unacceptable for subordinates and their superiors to engage in a romantic relationship, especially if the relationship affects your everyday workplace performance. Before you decide to make your relationship official, realize that many offices have a strict policy against workplace romance, believing that it can lead to unfair treatment, unhappy coworkers, and a decrease in efficiency and productivity. To ensure you are not violating any company policies, a discussion with HR should take place ASAP. Typically, these prohibitions are designed to protect the company from a sexual-harassment lawsuit if the relationship ends and the subordinate claims the supervisor or higher-ranking colleague is making unwanted advances.
Accidentally hitting “reply all” on an email in which you write something inappropriate
The fix: First, forget about retrieving it. You can’t “unsend” an email. Second, ignore it — at first. Don’t go running to the mistaken receivers and draw attention to something they may not have even seen. (It may get lost in people’s inboxes.) Meanwhile, for those who have seen it, depending on the tone and language you used, their reaction may not be as severe as you think. So, instead of panicking, wait for the reaction. If it causes an even moderate uproar, you’ll know soon enough. And that’s when you apologize, but only to your boss.
Third is doing the “full Letterman.” Dave’s on-air apology to viewers after his extramarital indiscretion was a model combination of self-deprecation and class. And yours will be, too, if you go face-to-face with the people you’ve offended. Don’t tempt fate by trying to do it via “reply all.”