Jun 5, 2009

I screwed up. Now what?

So it started about a month ago, the week I had my interview for a promotion. Earlier in the week, I had not done a high priority ticket that I was supposed to do and had almost (I didn't, but I cut it close) missed a deadline. It had been a mix-up. I received an e-mail from my boss telling me that two projects were high priority, and from verbal communication I assumed that #2 on the list was the most high priority. I was wrong. The snafu was brought up in the interview, but...it was a one-time thing, I had corrected the problem, and I didn't think about it very much after that.

Then something weird happened. I screwed up another project. It came on the heels of the other two projects, and I didn't have quite enough time to get it done to my liking...but I sent some content live that had some pretty serious errors. And then in one week, from a combination of projects that I was working on, I received more errors that were my fault from quality assurance than I have in the entire 15 months I'd been here before combined.

Then I missed another e-mail. I think I deleted it, but I don't know, because I didn't get it until a couple of days later when my boss sent it to me again, saying that the person who needed the content requested in the e-mail was upset.

I had to have a meeting with my supervisor about what was bringing down my performance, what needed to happen to ensure I was reading all my e-mails, what I could do to improve. My boss started ensuring I received critical e-mails by sending them to me twice and putting notices on them so that he would get a message as soon as I read them.

Then today, I was late (really late) for the meeting where they delivered the decision to me on the promotion. It was scheduled in my lunch hour, but I forgot about it and skipped off to lunch. I got back before the meeting was supposed to end (thank God), but that didn't really do anything to change the fact that I was really, really late. Not surprisingly, I didn't receive the promotion. And the fact that I've screwed up lately, "need a sense of urgency," and need to pay more attention to detail was brought up in front of another supervisor, as was the fact that we'd already had a meeting to discuss this.

The thing that gets me? I've only been late to two other meetings the entire time I've worked here, 16 months. I've received more errors from quality assurance in the last month than ever before, total. In fact I'm pretty sure I more than doubled the my total this month. I've never missed an e-mail. Never come close to missing a deadline on a high priority ticket because I just didn't do it. I've never been such a screw up at any job as I have been here in the past few weeks. No one has ever had to pull me aside and have a talk with me about the way I get my work done. No one. The critiques I received a month ago at the interview for the promotion were a complete 180 from the ones I received today. A month ago, the critique was to be more vocal, be more involved. Today it was, do your job.

Truth be told, I'm completely mortified. It only makes it worse that I don't know why I've been such a flake for the last month. My supervisor asked if I was getting distracted, if I wasn't feeling challenged enough and was allowing my mind to wander...but that's not really it at all. Yes, I'd like more challenging work, but I don't think that's what's been keeping me from doing my job. I've been a little dissatisfied with things going on in my workplace, things that I will not discuss here, but nothing...nothing epic. And I've never let minor annoyances get in the way of doing my job before. If anything, I just work harder.

I have no excuses, no reasons, no explanations.

So what's going on?

And more importantly, what can I do to get back on track and get my coworkers to start trusting me again? Because I've been trying for the last month, ever since that first slip, and it seems just to have gotten worse.


  1. is there someone you trust on your team that can help tag team with you? as in, when you get something done, have them look at it to check your work (and you do the same for them). it always helps to feel like you have someone to be accountable to even for smaller check-ins instead of waiting all the way until the deadline comes up.

    also, block out time on your calendar IMMEDIATELY when you get assignments so the time is already set aside to get the work done. i find that helps a lot to keep from getting distracted by other meetings and side conversations. good luck!

  2. I like the advice that el twirpo gives. Mistakes were made, and they're in the past. Once you've made the appropriate apologies have been made, you must face forward and work on doing well in the future. Consider this a wake-up call.

  3. I hate that feeling. Is there anything going on that is making you distracted? I like El Twirpo's advice, and here is the only advice I have:

    I would take the weekend to think and ponder or whatever. Then start Monday morning like it is your first day at the job. Think if it as a new beginning (like New Years of the first day of a new school year). Then, keep track of your accomplishments, that way next time you're up for promotion you can show what you've done since the "hiccup" (It's just a hiccup). Maybe it can shift your mind-set and get you back on track.

    Best of luck!

  4. Found your blog through 20SB and I want to say: yikes! And I know exactly how you feel (well, maybe not EXACTLY but close). I ended up failing an internship in October 2008 because of not-up-to-par performance (I don't want to say BAD!) but a lot of it had to do with outside factors affecting my teaching. Luckily, this was a wake-up call for me and I switched majors because of it.

    But, from what I'm reading, this is a fluke for you. It doesn't happen often and it just HAD to happen the month they were making the decision whether or not to promote you! I like el_twirpo's advice about tag-teaming with someone else and also just remember who you are. You know you are better than what you have been in the past month. And I can bet you aren't going to be making those same mistakes again. The best way is to show your bosses that you are worthy of a promotion. You can take a setback and work that much harder to make things right.

  5. Thank you for all the advice (and commiseration!), guys. :) I really appreciate it! Plan on going in Monday, starting fresh and really putting my nose to the grindstone.

  6. Whenever I find myself getting like that in my performance and overall life, here's what I do:

    I take the evening (or weekend) and do a total 'clean sweep.' This starts with cleaning out my room, my desk, everything. Getting ALL my laundry done, ironing what needs to be ironed, MAJORLY purging everything i don't need, organizing EVERYTHING, making lists of things I need, going and getting them, and resetting my life for a fresh start.
    Cleaning out my car is always an upper too. Nothing like waking up on Monday morning to a closet full of clothes you KNOW will fit because you've purged all the other stuff, clothes that are clean and ready to go, not needing anything because you already got it all the night before, getting into a CLEAN car with a FULL tank of gas, getting to work ON TIME, and being pretty damn productive, because your desk/cube are clean, you know where everything is, and you're on track.
    Sometimes I need to reset myself, even if I'm not slacking. It feels good, and allows me to reassess things...and if anything else, it gives me an opportunity to mix things up so its not the same'ol same'ol all the time. When you clean, take the opportunity to rearrange and freshen...
    Trust me, you won't know how good it feels till you do it.
    And if you need help doing this, I'm an expert. The action of cleaning and organizing is NOT unlike shooting heroine for me. :)