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Mortified: slip up at work

(27 Posts)
Tirion1649 Wed 22-Feb-17 18:48:07

Made a miscalculation, a genuine error, at work re numbers of clients seen. Came up with inflated figure from a spread sheet. Now, from outside the team, it's been queried. Our small team has had therefore to send round an email retracting the original figure.

It's surely remembered that it was me who came up with this figure. I didn't say anything - just joined in, quietly and certainly very embarrassed, with the writing of the team email to correct the original figure.

The other team members may be wondering why I did't say: 'O heck, I think that was me - so sorry' (but in fairness, at the time, they might have queried the number and checked for themselves before it got out).

Tomorrow morning, do I fess up (even though they must recall it was essentially my error)? I'm not particularly easy with them at the best of times (they're close friends as well as colleagues) and, no harm to them, but they do exclude me rather a lot. Still, I get on with my work and don't receive complaints.

This business about the figure will blow over - eventually. For now, I am wrestling with saying nothing, as if I couldn't recall quite who came up with the figure, or coming straight out with it. I hope that whatever I do, the other two continue see this as a case of collective responsibility and don't 'out' me - though no doubt that will happen informally. But I want the cold air of this afternoon to disappear and maybe that means saying 'Opps'? Feel embarrassed and anxious.

ArchNotImpudent Wed 22-Feb-17 19:01:17

I always feel it's better to admit to mistakes - I feel better if I've owned up, and I think others respect you more if you're confident enough to admit you got something wrong and apologise. In your situation, I would be wondering more if the moment to confess had passed, given that the mistake has now been corrected - is there likely to be more discussion about it, or fallout from a senior level?

If your team has already moved on, it might not be worthwhile raking it up again - if it's still a current topic of conversation, I would admit it in a low key way and apologise. As you mentioned, the others could have checked the figure and didn't, so they're not blameless and hopefully they will acknowledge that, so you can all draw a line under the matter.

Trills Wed 22-Feb-17 19:05:19

Everyone has an oops now and again.

If you don't mention it then there will be some people who think "that was Tirion and she knows it and didn't own up" and some people who think nothing.

If you do mention it, all the people will think "Tirion messed up." But hopefully they will all think "Tirion owned up, and that shows good character" and "We all make mistakes occasionally".

Tirion1649 Wed 22-Feb-17 20:35:46

Thank you both, very much. Wise words. My feeling right now is that I should say something tomorrow morning and perhaps even offer to take the blame if this escalates. Arch - I don't think there will be fallout from up above - they don't care enough or scrutinise but there may well be in the morning from our peers. I keep obsessesively looking at work emails to see if this has happened.

I'm scared. The two in the team are really thick with each other and I'm left feeling very, very much like the odd one out. On a superficial level, it's all OK but this may be enough to undermine normal relations & they may wonder (and I'd understand) why I haven't acknowledge it was me before now. I wish I could go in tomorrow kind of detached - apologising for what was very clearly a genuine slip-up and somehow not actually feel awkward, embarrassed, worried.

Trills Wed 22-Feb-17 20:37:35

On a practical level, if you (as a group) know how the mistake came to happen, you'll be in a better position to prevent it from happening again

lougle Wed 22-Feb-17 20:46:05

Admit it. It will be better, I promise. I had a disastrous day at work yesterday. So bad. I realised far too late that I had a migraine (I don't always get pain) which explained why I was mucking up simple tasks, but I had to just admit my error. It was awful but far better than trying to pretend it didn't happen.

Imaginingdragonsagain Wed 22-Feb-17 20:49:19

Does it matter? A spreadsheet was sent out with an error, it's been queried and a corrected sheet had been sent. Why do they care which individual in the team made the mistake? Just look to see if you can improve your checks or something so it would be picked up before being sent out.

RustyPaperclip Wed 22-Feb-17 20:51:07

I once made a bit of a cock up with a budget in a previous job. It was nothing major but just meant some adjustments. I told my line manager and director as soon as I realised my mistake and I was thanked for being open and honest and respected for not hiding the issue. I suspect the guilt would have eaten me up otherwise, despite the fact it wasn't a major issue

Imaginingdragonsagain Wed 22-Feb-17 20:56:03

If nobody had picked it up and I'd realised I would have pointed it out by the way. I wouldn't hide errors!

TeethDrama Wed 22-Feb-17 21:02:14

If it's still being talked over tomorrow, or escalates, I think it best to say something. Maybe something that makes it seem you assumed they knew it was your must she without you actually having to say so. E.g. "I definitely had a brainstorm when I put that figure in didn't I.. I'll be really careful not to do that again, sorry!" I would not admit you deliberately said nothing yesterday and end up apologising for that as well (no need to apologise for two things, one will do, pick the main event i.e. The numbers mistake). If they say "you could have owned up/said sorry yesterday" act innocent and say "it was obviously my mistake, I assumed you already knew that so just focused on getting the email right. I'm sorry if I didn't apologise yesterday".

If however it has all blown over I would probably not drag it up from guilty conscience, if you don't get on that well with them they will likely see your hangdog attitude as a sign of weakness. Again, if referred to in passing just say "yes, those figures werent exactly my finest hour..."

And try not to worry too much. Everyone makes a booboo over figures at work on occasion. I've seen senior managers presenting to md's with figures that were completely wrong due to a random zero. They get over it. Main thing is the mistake has been spotted and corrected.

Tirion1649 Wed 22-Feb-17 21:04:23

Thanks for all responses. I didn't know about the error (such a simple calculation) until I was told this afternoon - it had come up informally and though my colleagues knew about it, didn't tell me until this afternoon. There's a slim chance that they won't remember it was me who did this particular calculation but I suspect they will. The figure was significant and went out to our peers in other teams and to the bosses (the latter are less likely to make anything of it).

My embarrassment lies in the fact of not saying 'OMG that was me' earlier today and of the fact a retraction email has gone out and other colleagues may now query if our other figures are accurate.

I wouldn't be stressing so much if I felt relaxed with my immediate colleagues. I don't but I feel that I should say something - or this will fester.

Imaginingdragonsagain Wed 22-Feb-17 21:05:04

^^ what teeth said.

Specialagentblond Wed 22-Feb-17 21:07:28

Teeth, good advice.

Tirion1649 Wed 22-Feb-17 21:09:40

Teethdrama - thank you for this practical advice. Certainly, one apology not two (not saying anything today was clearly because I was very embarrassed, didn't know what to say). I have to hope that my colleagues will be willing to continue to assume collective responsibility (they could so easily have checked/queried the figure before it was sent out) though my guess is that word will spread. Such is my workplace ..

TeethDrama Wed 22-Feb-17 21:13:08

It sounds like you really want to say something. I would do so then, but avoid presenting it like a puppy expecting to be punished and grateful if they don't punish you too harshly. Be humble but dignified about it. Maybe say "look, I'm pretty sure that was my figure that created the problem yesterday. I'm sorry that it caused an issue. I'll be certain to double check those figures in future." Here you are a) acknowledging the situation b) taking responsibility c) apologising and d) showing what you'll do differently next time to prevent the situation happening again.

Haffdonga Wed 22-Feb-17 21:15:58

Also agree with Teeth .

'Fess up in passing without making a big deal. Really sorry everyone. I've redone the sums and I obviously wasn't on the ball when I did those figures. Hope it hasn't caused you any issues.

Then don't mention it again unless the subject is brought up and just be matter of fact that you made a mistake. If you don't mention it it will look like you're trying to hide or deny your mistake.

TeethDrama Wed 22-Feb-17 21:17:05

X posts with lots of posters! Thanks. I have made one or two (ahem!) errors at work over the treats, nothing serious but definitely embarrassing...

TeethDrama Wed 22-Feb-17 21:17:56

*years! Darnit, autocorrect!

ArchNotImpudent Wed 22-Feb-17 21:22:12

It's in your team's interests not to make a big thing about it by spreading the word - they let the figure go out without querying it, so hopefully they'll see that, in the interests of the team's profile, it's a case of least said, soonest mended.

Teeth's advice is spot on; also dragon's point about putting checks in place to stop this happening again - if the error is queried by your peers, you can respond by acknowledging it and quickly moving on to explain the measures you've taken to avoid a repetition.

I hope it all goes well for you tomorrow morning!

HarrietSchulenberg Wed 22-Feb-17 21:30:44

If it makes you feel any better, OP, I once crashed all the email servers for a large multimedia company by sending an humungously large video attachment to all my office buddies. No-one knew it was me as they didn't receive the attachment, but when IT were investigating the loss of all email traffic for 1700 people, there was some headshaking about a large attachment blocking everything up, so I swallowed hard, 'fessed up and we all had an eye-rolling laugh about my incompetence.
Who knew that a video of Barbie Girl would cause so much grief?
So yes, confess and hold your head high gin

Tirion1649 Wed 22-Feb-17 21:56:13

Harriet - that made me laugh - great story! Thank you.

My peers know about the error, hence our collective email, and all I can now do is to go in tomorrow and me open, to the point, brief and move on - any repercussions and I'll have to be willing to carry the can. Arch, Teeth and Dragon - so right. So right. Mention it in the morning and then busy myself with other stuff. Any fall out (and it couldn't be all that serious - surely it'll be seen a daft but human error), I'll just have to deal with. I'll come back and let you know how I got on - fingers crossed, please. Thanks again, all - feel reassured and far better for sharing.

Tirion1649 Fri 24-Feb-17 20:14:00

Hi all - update. Back at work the next morning, I mentioned that I was aware of my slip-up. Even rang another colleague who had queried another figure (which was correct - she just wanted confirmation). Mentioned my miscalculation and she barely responded - it wasn't a big deal.

The two colleagues in my team, though, have been rather remote - more than usual - rather disdainful - they are exceptionally good friends anyway and this was something else to make me feel like an outsider.

Still, it set me thinking. Need to brush up my CV and see what's out there. In the meantime, carry on. Working hard, remaining cheerful (though this week especially it's not been easy - their undisguised annoyance on Wednesday, when I first posted here, has had me in tears (privately) and up half the night), and getting on with the job.

Thank you all again - this might have sounded trivial but you got how unhappy this had made me and supported and advised.

Trills Fri 24-Feb-17 20:25:40

Well done smile

TeethDrama Fri 24-Feb-17 20:36:00

Well done for tackling it. Your colleagues will love to have something to gossip about to themselves, they will be acting out that rather than actually being mega hung up on it. You could have got the slightest little thing wrong and they'd be acting the same so hold your head up and carry on. When I am feeling insecure, I think of someone I know who always comes across as being professional and positive and brisk etc and act out her for a while until I get my own groove back 🙂 Also I like to vent out loud in the car on my way home (alone of course!) it would be on the lines of "Ugh, you two make me sick. You think you're being all disdainful and smug, like I should be shrivelling up, but it just makes you look cliquey and petty. As if either of you are that important to me." it really helps get it out of your system! 😀

Good luck on future job hunt, the next lot can't be as bad!

ArchNotImpudent Fri 24-Feb-17 21:07:26

It sounds like you handled it really well. It's certainly shown your colleagues up as childish and unsupportive - it might be a very good thing that it's prompted you to reassess your CV and start looking elsewhere.

I hope you find something better and so will eventually look back on your minor slip-up as a blessing in disguise!

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