By Susanne Loxton
At some point in every career, there is a shadow of doubt cast over your abilities. Whether it’s because you made a large mistake that cost money or lost an important client, or because you’ve let yourself become so overwhelmed that you lost your ability to function, it’s bound to happen sometime. It doesn’t have to be a career-ending problem. You can learn from your mistakes, gain control back, and move forward if you want to.
Here are some tips to help keep your image up while navigating an uncomfortable point in your career.
Whatever has happened, you need to maintain accountability for your actions. If you’ve taken on too much, it’s up to you to find a way to juggle your responsibilities. Delegate if possible, prioritize, and ask for assistance, but don’t leave it up to someone else to deal with. If you’ve made a mistake, own responsibility for what you’ve done (or failed to do), apologize, and then come up with an appropriate plan to deal with the aftermath. A mistake is much easier to forgive if you’re proactively working to fix it, and it shows that you don’t shuck your responsibilities when things go wrong.
Figure Out What Went Wrong
Was it a matter of not rechecking someone else’s numbers? Did you forget to write something down? What about failing to understand the project or how many people you would need to work on it? You’ll need to spend some time thinking about how you wound up in your current situation, and really understand how it happened. This will not only help you to improve your current situation by finding the places you can shore things up, but it will help to prevent you from repeating similar behaviors in the future.
Don’t Make Excuses
Trying to point out how something is not your fault is never an attractive behavior in an employee or contractor. Even if it was a matter of someone else giving bad numbers, or not coming through with a printing order, you should still own responsibility if it was ultimately up to you to make sure it was handled. Trying to pass the blame onto someone else makes you appear weak and uninformed. Remember it all comes back to personal accountability. If you can make it through this storm while maintaining professionalism and dedication, you will come out ahead in the end.
Try to Maintain Your Appearance of Confidence and Calm
If they see you panicking, they’ll think there’s something to panic about. If you can spend your days wringing your hands and walking around with a furrowed brow, those around you are going to think that you don’t have things under control. Make sure you maintain a professional appearance, keep yourself well groomed, and slow down. If you’re running around chasing after odds and ends, it will look like the situation is worse than it is. If you appear calm and confident, you’ll give off the impression that you aren’t worried, and less attention will be paid to the fact that there is a problem.
Get Back to Work
Once you’ve taken responsibility, figured out what went wrong and how to fix it, and you’ve gotten your emotions back under control, it’s time to put that plan into action. Use this as an opportunity not only to correct the problem and continue on with your work, but consider putting in some extra effort to get ahead of the game. You probably have more to deal with than you were expecting, but taking charge and doubling-down will soon have things right back where you want them.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
The Type A personalities that do so well in the PR world also tend to have very high expectations and a little bit of perfectionism. While things may seem to be getting out of control and you may feel as though you are failing, try to take a step back and look at things objectively. Are things really as bad as you’re making them out? If you’re trying to maintain a good impression, you might want to try and change your relationship with yourself first. If you can manage to convince yourself that you’ve got this, and you’re still hanging in there, it will come across as increased confidence to those around you as well.
Remember the Big Picture
You’ve got a job to do, you know how to do it, and they have confidence in your abilities, or they wouldn’t have hired you for the job. Take the opportunity to learn what you can from the struggle, and move forward. When it’s all over and the job’s done, it may even seem like you were worried about nothing.
Susanne Loxton is a personal development enthusiast who combines her zeal for positive thinking with a passion for writing. On a daily basis, Susanne works for Aubiz, a compendium of information about companies in her native Australia.