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Making a Mistake at Work

Savvy Confessions: Should I Fess Up Now?

This reader posted in our anonymous Savvy Confessions group, asking if she should confess to a mistake she made at work. Do you have any advice for her?

I've recently started working at a new job, and a few days ago I realized I made a mistake on a project I've already submitted. The drafts were seen by my boss and by the client, and neither of them picked up the mistake, which is actually a bit odd. I know that once this project is released someone is bound to pick up on the mistake and the client will be really angry. I'm losing sleep over this, the mistake can't be rectified (it's been printed about 30,000 times) but I don't know if there's any point to coming clean because there's nothing anyone can do now. Should I wait until the mistake is noticed and then apologize profusely? I'm scared I'm going to lose my job over this and I hate thinking that because I really love my new job. I haven't told anyone about this, not even my partner, because unfortunately it's not the first time I've overlooked an important detail and I feel so embarrassed. I'm having a lot of problems in my personal life right now and my great new job has been the best part of my life for the last few weeks. I really don't want to mess that up too . . . if anyone has any advice I would really welcome it.

Pose your own anonymous questions or off-load your work confessions by posting in the Savvy Confessions group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out.

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pghsmith pghsmith 5 years
Fess up ASAP!  It's better to come out with it now, than have someone else find out about it later.  I wouldn't mention that you've known about it for awhile, though.  The sooner it is out, the sooner the impacts can be dealt with.   I have been in this situation before and immediately notified the project team, even though it had a negative cost implication. It was actually a very big POSITIVE for me at annual review time.  You will come across as proactive and trustworthy and not a screw up. Everyone makes mistakes!
kel78belle kel78belle 5 years
absolutely confess.  being proactive and working to find a solution will be better than waiting this out.  I've made a mistake before and I immediately went to my boss and asked what could be done, I didn't get fired.  I agree with Agirlnamedme that withholding the info is worse.  facing this head on will save the company embarrassment from the client discovering it first.  mistakes happen and they can be fixed, you may be talked to if you've had this problem before but I don't think they would let  you go especially if you are working hard to try and fix this. 
Agirlnamedme Agirlnamedme 5 years
I wouldn't let you go for making a mistake. The issue here is that you've been holding on to this information instead of giving your boss the opportunity to mitigate the problem. You need to just be honest, "oh my god, I just spotted an error. I feel just sick about it. Is there anything we can do?"
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