When You Mess Up at Work


Everyone makes mistakes, but making a mistake at work can be stressful.  You’re embarrassed, you’re afraid of what your boss is going to say, and a part of you may even be concerned that this will cost you your job.  If you’ve made a bit of an ‘oops’ and you’re not sure how to proceed, these tips may help:

Admit it.  The worst thing you can do is try to cover up your mistake.  Most managers will overlook mistakes (even big ones) but few will overlook lying.  Get it out in the open so that the situation can be addressed if necessary.

Fix it.  Since you made the mistake, you have an opportunity to show the employer how responsible you are by taking steps to fix it.  Determine what went wrong and what you need to do to make it right.  If you are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty, it will make a positive impression on your manager.

Don’t blame.  When mistakes are made, there is usually plenty of blame to go around.  Try to resist that temptation.  Blaming doesn’t solve any problems; it damages relationships and makes you look unprofessional.  Don’t go there!

Learn from it.  Do you remember when you got in trouble as a child and your parents would always ask, ‘what did you learn from this?’  While it may have been a bit annoying, your parents had a point.  If we are willing to accept the lesson, our mistakes can actually be excellent teachers.  This is why employers like to hire more experienced candidates.  People who try to learn from their mistakes are far less likely to repeat them.

Making a mistake at work feels horrible, but the truth is that the mistake itself is less important than what you do afterwards.  If you behave professionally, fix your mistake, and use it as a learning opportunity, it will leave your manager with a positive impression of you.


(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


Are You About to Lose Your Job?


Even the most confident among us worries about job security sometimes, but when does it stop being paranoia and actually become a legitimate concern?  Here are five signs that your manager may be thinking about terminating your employment:

Big things have happened.  When big changes are afoot either within your company or in your industry, it is best to be on your guard.  Declines in your industry can lead to a large number of jobs being cut, and a reorganization within your company can cost a lot of people their jobs.  Keep your eyes and ears open as they can provide you with the first indication that your job is not secure.

Your responsibilities start to disappear.  It’s subtle and gradual, but you begin to notice that your most important responsibilities have been reassigned to one of your coworkers.  The tasks that you are still doing are of much less value to your employer and your manager now expects very little from you.

Your manager is distant with you.  Recently you have been hearing about meetings that you weren’t invited to and your manager no longer talks to you.  It feels as if your manager has no interest in involving you with what is happening in the company, or even talking to you on a personal level.

You have a lot of formal meetings about your performance. You receive a lot of formal feedback, all of it written down.  You get the sense that your employer could be building a strong case to get rid of you.

People stop talking to you.  You suddenly start to feel invisible.  You eat lunch alone and nobody engages you in conversation.  It seems like people don’t want to be associated with you and you get the distinct impression that people are avoiding you.

Rarely will somebody actually come out and tell you that you are in danger of losing your job, but if you learn to read the signs, you can avoid being blind sided.  If you think something is up, try to see if you can improve the situation, but also update your resume and identify new opportunities.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

5 Ways to Fit in at Any Workplace

ID-100186400While getting a new job is always an exciting time, it’s not fun to be the new kid on the block.  As a new employee, you want to impress your manager, but at the same time it’s important to fit in with your coworkers.  Here are some tips that will help you make a good impression and start to build relationships with the people you will be working with:

Know what is expected of you.  As a rookie employee, you need to make it your mission to understand both your job requirements and the organizational culture.  Don’t make assumptions; just because something was okay at your last job doesn’t mean that it is acceptable here.  Ask a lot of questions and try to uncover the unwritten rules of your new workplace.

Be friendly.  Your coworkers can help you a lot when you are new to the job.  Get them on your side be being friendly and reaching out to them.  Smile a lot, have lunch in the staff lunch room and ask them questions about themselves.  You will find your job more pleasant and a lot easier when you are friendly with your coworkers.

Pay attention.  Part of fitting in is being able to pick up on non-verbal cues to understand how people are perceiving you.  Do they like what you are doing?  Are you getting on people’s nerves?  Are you doing something that is ‘not done’ at this organization?    Watch how your coworkers interact with each other and take notes.  It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the grapevine; but don’t engage in gossip.

Have a great attitude.  For a new employee, attitude is everything.  Demonstrate through your behaviour that you are grateful for this opportunity.  Show up early and volunteer for projects that nobody else wants to do.  Let everyone see that you are a positive addition to the team.

While it is important to fit in, don’t stress about it.  Remember that you are there to do a job.  If you are professional, courteous and true to yourself it won’t take you long to make friends.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Samuiblue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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How to Set Yourself Up for a Promotion

ID-100263367You know that the easiest way to move up in your career is to get promoted from within the company, but how do you actually make that happen?  How can you make your manager see your potential and give you an amazing new opportunity?  Here are five tips that will get you pointed in the right direction:

Tell your manager that you want to move up in the organization.  If you are looking for a new opportunity within your company, make sure that the decision makers know about it!  It would be so sad if you were passed over just because nobody thought that you would be interested in the job.  Managers are always happy to know that their employees want to grow with the company and they may even look for opportunities for you.

Identify opportunities for growth.    There are opportunities for career growth everywhere; you just need to find them.  Keep your eyes open for events, training opportunities, new business within your company, opportunities to broaden your role, or anything that will allow you to expand your skills and develop your network.  As you take advantage of these opportunities, you may find that new doors open for you.

Do amazing at your job.  The opinion that your manager has of you will be largely based on how you perform in your current job.  Make an effort to identify what is important to your manager and excel at it.  If you are great at what you do, your manager will likely be happy to give you a new challenge!    

Build relationships.  Your attitude and interpersonal skills are key when you are trying to get a promotion within your company.  As much as you can, attend company events and demonstrate your commitment to the organization.  It is also important that you be professional and helpful to everyone you encounter at work.  You never know who might be able to help you one day.

Apply for open positions.  Gone are the days when your manager would just hand you a promotion.  In today’s world if you want a job, you have to apply for it.  When you’re going through the application and interview process, don’t assume that they are just going to hand you the job because you are awesome!  You have to do the work of showing them that you truly are the best fit for the job.  Take the application process as seriously as you would if you were approaching a new organization.  You may be competing against external applicants so don’t let them outshine you!

Henry Hartman knew what he was talking about when he said that “Success comes when preparation meets opportunity.”  Go get yourself prepared, keep your eyes open, and an opportunity will find you.  Good luck!

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Do’s and Don’ts for Wearing a Halloween Costume at Work

Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year and it can be a lot of fun to celebrate with your co-workers.  Many workplaces encourage their employees to wear their costumes to work but if you do, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Keep it appropriate.  Even though it’s Halloween, you are still at work.  Don’t choose a costume that is sexy or offensive.

Make sure that everyone else is dressing up.  You never want to be the only one.

Don’t choose a costume that makes it difficult for you to work.  Remember that you are there to do a job.

Don’t go over the top.  This is not the best way to stand out at work.

Put candy out on your desk.  You never know when you might encounter trick-or-treaters!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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Stand Out By Being Polite

Have you ever met someone who is impeccably polite?  They truly are a delight to be around.  When you boil it right down, politeness is simply being aware of and respecting the feelings of others.  By having good manners, you can make yourself more likable to everyone that you meet.  Here are some tips that will help you take your politeness to the next level.

Say hello.  People love to be acknowledged.  By smiling and saying hi to people when you see them, you are telling them that they matter to you.

Be considerate.  Pay attention to people when they talk to you.  Learn about their interests and the names of their spouse and children.  Respect their roles and duties and do what you can to make their day easier.

Dress appropriately.  Don’t wear revealing clothing or dress too casually for work.  Practice good hygiene- take a shower and brush your teeth.  It’s not polite to force your colleagues to hold their nose when they talk to you.

Remember the basics.  Words like please, thank you and excuse me still carry a lot of weight.  By minding your manners you will leave people with the right impression.

Be sensitive.  It is important that you are respectful of people’s differences such as gender, race, religion and politics.  Always make an effort to include everyone and never make derogatory or potentially inflammatory statements.

Usually it’s the rude behaviour that stands out, but if you are consistently polite you will find that doors tend to open up for you.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Work With Integrity

Are you an ethical person?  Of course, if you were asked this at a job interview, you would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”, but if you were really being honest with yourself, what would you say?  Do you uphold your moral standards or do you sometimes take the easy way out?  In the work environment, your ethics can be put to the test.  Here are some tips that will help you maintain your integrity, while keeping your job:

Do everything above board.  When you are operating in the real world, it’s not always easy to distinguish between what is ethical and what isn’t.  Even if something is routinely done by your coworkers, you should still stop to consider if the behaviour is right for you.  In some organizations, employees regularly alter dates and other details just to make reports look better.  A good test is whether or not you would want your actions published in the employee newsletter.

Take responsibility.  Always stand behind your actions, particularly your mistakes.  When you admit to your errors and take steps to correct them, you demonstrate professionalism and show your manager that you can be trusted.

Don’t gossip.  Have you ever seen someone who is chummy with a coworker one minute and gossiping about them the next?  When you talk about people behind their backs, it makes you look petty and mean.  Your coworkers may start to wonder what you say about them when they aren’t there to hear.

Be prepared to take a stand.  Living with integrity will sometimes put you in uncomfortable situations.  There may be some occasions when you have to speak up to defend someone or to say that you think something is wrong.  However, in the workplace it is important that you pick your battles.  Don’t do anything that you believe is unethical, but make sure that you are always respectful to your coworkers.

When you’re trying to uphold your moral standards, the workplace can be tricky.  You often feel like you need to tow the line or risk alienating your coworkers or even losing your job.  However, you shouldn’t have to choose between your job and your ethics.  Your coworkers may be annoyed that you think that something they are doing is wrong, but if you maintain your professionalism, they’ll get over it.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)