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I just started at a high-intensity company doing graphic and web work. My boss had worked with me before at a third party company and loved my work, and offered for me to come on board full time with him.

Right now I'm working part time while my 2 weeks notice from my current job. I had to do some changes to the website, but I both misunderstood what he exactly wanted and some links I had created were messed up, and my boss is saying that's why we didn't have any sales yesterday (even though it was easter).

How can I best come back from a big screw up right off the bat?

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    Does your boss seem to be angry/annoyed? Or is your boss simply stating facts? – mcknz Apr 17 '17 at 23:15
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    @mcknz he called me this morning and was pretty angry. – user48249 Apr 17 '17 at 23:34
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    The links are your fault; the misunderstanding is his fault (and a bit yours for not asking him follow-up questions). I would not call this a big screwup. – Stephan Bijzitter Apr 19 '17 at 13:55
39

Own up to it. State exactly what the mistake was, how you fixed it (or how you plan on fixing it if the fix is non-trivial), and how you will prevent something like this from happening again. I can't guarantee that it won't affect your hiring process but taking accountability is the way to handle this like an adult.

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    This is the only thing to do. – Kilisi Apr 17 '17 at 23:55
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    Additionally, you may want to determine what kind of process should exist around deploying new changes to the website. Your boss should at least get to look at it and say, "That's not what I want, I want X" before changes go live. – Chris G Apr 17 '17 at 23:57
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    I think we can safely assume the OP is "an adult." No need to be condescending, especially since he hasn't said anything indicating he is avoiding owning up to it. – teego1967 Apr 18 '17 at 0:00
  • One way to prevent the misunderstanding in the future is to repeat back your understanding of the task assigned to confirm you did not misunderstand your boss. – cheshire Apr 18 '17 at 0:29
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    @teego1967 It's a fairly common pitfall to fail to take accountability for one's actions in the workplace. In my view this is a sign of a lack of maturity. The fact that the OP is asking this question indicates they are unsure of the proper course of action. Taking those three points into account, I'm comfortable with my statement. – Myles Apr 18 '17 at 13:48
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I came across a similar situation, due to a technical issue of mine with a third party, so that a large number of customers got affected and the number of customer complaints was really large.

Here is what happened:

  • I found the issue and fixed it, I knew it is was mistake.
  • Everyone was pointing at third party team and blaming them for the issue since they have bad service history and they were having a maintenance operation at their end at that time.
  • Nobody knew that the issue came from my side and I knew after fixing the issue nobody would insist on knowing the root cause.

There was an argument going on in my head whether I should speak up and tell them that the issue was mine and I fixed it or I should keep quiet and let it go since the issue was already resolved and I could simply get out of it.

Here is what I did,

  • I sent a mail to the third party company informing them that the issue was from my side and that it is fixed.
  • I send another mail to my team including the managers showing my apologies about the case.

Guess what, I received a thank-you email with the following from the general manager:

“I am proud of working with colleagues like you!! My sincerest appreciation for getting to the root cause and finding out where we went wrong. It is only with this attitude we can succeed. Once again thank you very much for the excellent service provided”

I was very happy to receive such a mail but as Myles said, there is no guarantee, that it will work for you. Just to give the complete picture I have a good history with this manager doing quite a good job for years. But anyway honesty is the best option in all cases even if you think it is not.

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I agree with Myles. Own up to it, and get ahead of it. If you try to hide it, or get defensive, it'll just make it worse. If you get defensive, you're baiting him to try harder to explain why it's your fault. If you get ahead of it, and explain what you did wrong, you'll essentially make it unnecessary for him to have to tell you why it's your fault (ie, he'll have no reason to yell at you if you're already telling him what he's going to say. And you'll look like an adult for doing so.)

Everyone makes mistakes.

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    I have a Development server where all changes/updates are reviewed and signed off on before they go live. You may want to suggest implementing this policy. – John Apr 18 '17 at 1:03
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To me it sounds like you quit your work to early. Did you test the links after you updated the site? Next time do so. It is one thing for having not the correct images, it is another thing to break links.

Making changes in production is super dicey. I would work towards implementing a development process make changes in a testing environment, test those changes, then push them to production. Then check them again in production.

When I was the only person who could develop and test a site, I do the walk around the block method. That is, after I push a change I would take a walk around the block to clear my head and put on my testing persona. Its as if you have to have multiple personalities (I have already been called a sociopath on this site, so I wonder if that plays into it.)

Also given the informality of the development process, I would ask for the bosses approval before pushing. Have a mock up, email him and see if that is what he is talking about.

The core issue is the lack of a development process. The boss may not want one, but as a professional you have to implement one to the best of your ability.

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    There were some really excellent points here, but I think that the point was ruined with the "You quit your work too early" comment. You're making an assumption on why things didn't work properly. In fact, there are a HOST of reasons a new employee misses something in a new system. Well done on the recommendation of implementing and developing a dev. process (even if it's just a personal one), however. – SliderBlackrose Apr 18 '17 at 19:39
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    The "quit your work too early" comment is at first glance a little confusing given that OP just quit his job (gave two weeks notice), but this is not the "quitting" being referred to here. – littleO Apr 20 '17 at 2:09

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