Humble pie. There will be times when this is served throughout your career because things don’t always go quite how you’d like, whether you’ve worked somewhere five minutes or five years. This could be having one of your ideas dismissed, implementing a new process that doesn’t work, or being in charge of a project that doesn’t go as smoothly as you’d hoped.
All of the above is perfectly normal and part of the highs and lows of work, the important thing is how you respond to these situations and what happens next.
It’s easy to come in to an organisation and see things more objectively than those who’ve worked there for a long time. Quite early on you will probably have loads of ideas about how systems can improve, be more efficient and so on. By all means share them, tactfully, but it is highly likely they won’t be taken on board.
This can be for any number of reasons, including colleagues thinking you don’t have enough experience to know these things (see my previous post on ageism in the workplace), or your idea could take a lot of resources to implement, or it’s actually not that great an idea.
DON’T BE DISHEARTENED. I am a huge advocate for being confident in the workplace (and everywhere!), particularly women. Don’t see this as a set back and don’t lose your confidence. Ask for feedback on why your idea isn’t going further and keep it in mind when you come up with others.
If you have responsibility over a project or any other specific aspect of your role, it will (at some point) go wrong. This is inevitable. The scale and severity of the wrongness is of course dependent on a number of factors, but it will happen.
When it happens, it can leave you thinking you’re not good enough for your job – which of course is not true. What you need to do is make every effort to rectify the situation quickly and efficiently, accept your mistake(s) and SEE EVERYTHING AS IMPORTANT, INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE.
If everything worked well all the time, you would never learn anything. As you progress in your career, the mistakes will happen less, because you’ll not repeat the same ones again. It’s also very humbling to know you can fudge things up or have things not go your way despite everything you believe about yourself. A certain amount of arrogance is healthy, but if it can happen to Beyonce – it can happen to you.
Sometimes you can be blind-sighted by your own goals and any mistake, no matter the size, can seem like the end of the world. It’s really not. Don’t let humble pie effect the way you carry yourself at work, or what you think about yourself, or how you communicate with others.
A good exercise in times like these is to write down all the things you’ve excelled at over the past few years, in comparison to any mistakes or errors in judgement you’ve made. It’s good to have small set-backs (see above), but it’s also good to keep perspective and not think your mistakes automatically mean that you’re a terrible human. Plus, mistakes are always good to talk about in interviews when they ask “Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced in the workplace and how you dealt with it”. Ahh those silver-linings.
The moral is, you should always be confident in your work, but know that mistakes will happen. Stay humble.
Or, on the flipside…