From Our DMs: Your Worst Work F*ckups
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From Our DMs: Your Worst Work F*ckups

So, you f*cked up at work. Like, really bad. Maybe you tanked an important job interview, or accidentally sent a NSFW email that was meant for your work BFF to the whole company. Maybe your business failed, or you got fired. Whatever the failure is, our first instinct is to crawl into a hole of self pity and only return to the real world after we’ve beaten ourselves up enough times. Not only does this method make you feel even shittier, it doesn’t prevent you from making the same failure again in the future. There has to be a better way to cope, right?

This week on, we’re looking failure in the eye and making a vow to Fail Fearlessly this year—and beyond. Because always succeeding is like… really boring.

After screwing up at work, it’s easy to feel completely alone. Your mistake feels catastrophic—no matter how big or small your error actually was. You start thinking: Of course, X wouldn’t have made that mistake. Maybe I got promoted too quickly? I will never recover from this. And when those negative thoughts start to flood in, and we know how difficult facing your team, or your boss, can be.

We’re here to tell you to just stop. No matter how overly-critical you are of yourself, it won’t delete the mistake. So, you may as well embrace it, move on and be better. Need some help? Let us remind you that you’re not alone. We asked our Girlboss Daily subscribers to share their most epic work f*ckups, and, whew, did you deliver some stories we’ll never forget.

If you’ve felt like nothing can top your most recent snafu at work, we’re sure you’ll find something to make you feel a million times better below—and maybe even help you learn from somebody else’s mess-up.

Always Double Check —Then Check Again

I lost my company over $70,000. Yup, you read that right. It was one of the most stressful and humiliating things I ever experienced. It was my first accounting job out of college and I worked in accounts payables and receivables. I regularly spoke to one of our vendors and I received an email from a scammer saying that their payment info changed. I didn't think anything of it, so I sent the info to the person who processes the bill payments. When it came time to pay the invoice, the money was sent to the scammer. I learned that I need to be a lot more careful when receiving information like that and to just call the person's office if I see anything out of the ordinary!”

“I work for a newspaper as a designer, and one of the promos at the top of our page was used for an inside story—usually either our featured pet or a featured recipe. The template for the page had 'Food' as the big headline. One week, I went to promo our pet but forgot to change the headline to 'Pets.' So there was a photo of a dog and the word 'Food' right above it. It still haunts me. Needless to say, the template was changed, and I learned not to rely on anyone else to catch my mistakes. Others had read the page and sent it to the printer, but they didn't catch it either. You have to rely on yourself to fix your mistakes. And rereading is so so SO important.”

“Always pay attention to if your job interview is at an Avenue EAST or Avenue WEST because I ended up driving 40 minutes to the wrong city for my job interview!”

“I worked for a small start-up, wearing many hats, and was put in charge of setting up autopayments for monthly expenses, including the owner’s health insurance. The insurance company would not accept auto payments so it had to be paid online manually. One month, I forgot and the policy was automatically canceled. Of course, this was one week before he was scheduled to have minor surgery. He had no insurance until the next open enrollment period in Q4. I was mortified and felt terrible. I am still shocked that I wasn’t fired for this. On the plus side, we implemented a system to have better reminders regarding anything that could not be automated, and I insisted that he needed to be in charge of his own personal financial matters going forward.”

“I am the project manager for a popular rock band. I oversaw the rerelease of a classic album on vinyl. However, when the album was released, a major solo on one of the songs went missing—and I missed it. I was devastated and thought for sure I was going to lose my job. I learned to move a lot slower and do things in front of me properly—not rushing through them just to get to the next thing on my to-do list.”

“​​I’m a translator/interpreter and had a really big, important town hall meeting. I got to the event, set up my station and was ready to go! Five minutes before the meeting was set to start, I plugged in my interpretation machine, and it did not work! I unplugged and replugged the machine into a different outlet. Nothing. It was the most frustrating and disappointing feeling. But I’ve never been afraid of a challenge. I rolled up my sleeves and acted quickly by interpreting for the meeting the old-school way: I asked those that needed to hear the meeting in Spanish to please sit on one side of the room and stood behind them. This way, they could hear me in Spanish, but pay attention to the speaker’s presentation in front of them! After the event was over, I went back to pick up my station and decided to plug the transmitter once again. Lo and Behold! It worked perfectly. Lesson: machines can also throw tantrums and we shouldn’t rely on them entirely. Sometimes we have to roll up our sleeves and have confidence in ourselves to get the job done.”

Last year I sent my manager a message meant for a recruiter stating to keep me in mind for future opportunities. I tried to delete the message before she read it, but it was too late. I was mortified when she confronted me and asked if I was looking for another job.”

Be Petty on Your Own Time

“I was venting to a colleague about one of our partners with whom I was put on a project. I told her, 'ugh, I hate working with X' to find out seconds later that I sent it to mister X himself. It felt like I was in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. I deleted the message and started chit-chatting with him—only to find out that he had read it already when he asked if I wanted to talk about my message that he had copied. I opened up and said I had struggles working with him sometimes and why. He said he understood but didn't get to the bottom of it. The most awkward part was that we were in the same office, and both acted as if nothing had happened. Looking back, I should have walked up to him and talked about it one on one. Or, should he, as the partner of the (small) company, have done that?”

“A very toxic director of mine kept postponing a meeting where my colleagues and I needed his feedback to move forward with a project (he is known for delaying and ignoring deadlines then blaming us for it). When he finally accepted the meeting, I stupidly replied to the calendar invite but only emailed my colleagues, saying something sarcastic like 'Glad he can finally make it.' I didn't realize that because he's the one who created the calendar invite, or I don't know how, he also got that message. Thankfully, my note wasn't too bad and it could have been A LOT WORSE. Lesson learned, never EVER write anything petty in email—or if you do, just start a completely new email.”

“I learned to be careful even on text messages because you never know who has their personal messages sent to their work computer. I was complaining to my manager about the head of HR, and little did I know, she was standing at my manager’s desk—looking directly at her computer as the message popped up. The head of HR came over to my desk immediately and I (rightfully) got in trouble. Careful how you talk shit!”

Communication Is Key

“I was project managing some IT development work, liaising with our external third-party developers. Every so often, we had a 'best practice' rule to wipe one of the servers they used. There was a miscommunication between me and the IT director, and I accidentally gave the go-ahead to wipe a second server which had months of development work on it, costing the company an extra £12,000 and extending their deadline by months. I felt terrible!!! But I soon realized it was just miscommunication between us, and luckily our boss wasn’t mad. I definitely learned to triple check things like this and make absolutely clear what is happening and when!”

“I work remotely and wanted to go on vacay—while still working. Meetings at my company are intermittent, so I decided to head to Los Angeles and Atlanta with friends. Having to take meetings was a little annoying to me (and my friends), but it was all fine and dandy until my boss called me while I was at the mall. She asked about work and subsequently, where I was. I was then put on a performance review and I'm pretty sure I was being monitored on calls, as well. I’ll just keep my cameras on and communicate better from now on.”

“I worked at a tanning salon, and it was part of our responsibilities to monitor the number of available towels throughout the day and do the laundry as needed. One day, I was folding towels at the front counter and I reached into the basket for what I thought was another towel. It was not a towel, it was a pair of men's whitey tighties that someone had left in the tanning bed. Thank goodness they were clean. Well, fast forward, one of our not-as-nice regular customers walks in and goes right up to me with a straight face and says 'I think I left my underwear here this morning, do you have it?' So I look down at the trash can right next to me and the whitey tighties were laying there right on top of all the trash. He asks, 'Is that them?' and I said, 'Well they aren't mine.' He rolled his eyes and then left abruptly. I saw him the next morning because he came to tan again and I made a joke and said 'Don't forget your underwear today!' I felt awkward because he didn't laugh or anything. I later found out he complained to corporate about me. Thankfully, they found it funny and I didn't get in trouble, but I learned to not crack jokes with customers or clients that have the potential to embarrass them.”

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