Messing up at work: Lessons you can learn from the Costa Concordia disaster

Remember that Italian cruise ship that ran aground a few weeks ago? The Costa Concordia?  What a tragedy. Lives were lost as well as well as the career and reputation of Francesco Schettino.

Schettino was the the captain of the boat who:

  • Caused the disaster by steering into waters known to be off limits to cruise ships of the Concordia’s class.
  • Was not at his post when he should have been. He was allegedly getting frisky in his cabin with a woman he recently met.
  • Abandoned his ship long before all the guests were safely off, hampering rescue operations, branding himself a coward.
  • When confronted with his negligence, he made lame excuses to cover it up.

Right here is all you need to know about what to do when YOU mess up at work.

Say you flubbed the Big Presentation intended to get an important account. Or perhaps you lost the Important Files that were central to the Crucial Project. Or perhaps none of this happened to you but you fear it might someday. How would you handle it?

Take responsibility

Whether you were the team’s leader or had just a small part in the disaster, own it. If it was your fault, admit it and take ownership of it. Your co-workers will respect you more if you do.

Retrace your steps 

Try to salvage the situation by tracing it all the way to the point where things started to go wrong. Not only is this good personal information to know, but at some point you are going to probably have to give a detailed explanation about what happened to your management. Wouldn’t it be great to have a detailed explanation rather than “Uhhh. I dunno.”

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off

Also remember that mistakes do happen, but depending on the degree of the foul up, forgiving and forgetting may take a while. The only thing you have control of after it’s been done, is you. So, no bad attitudes, and keep your head up. That’s what honorable, well-intentioned people do.

 

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