MORE ON CAREERADDICT

How to Turn a Career Disaster Around

What do you do when disaster strikes at the workplace? Blaming the weather or a computer virus might be the answer when it’s a minor slip up, but this is your career and if we are talking about a disaster you need to deal with it swiftly and turn it around. Whether what you did was totally against work policy, morals and ethics, you don’t want your friends and colleagues to glare at you for simply being stupid or assuming that you had a higher IQ than them.

After all everyone makes mistakes, and lots of people have career disasters every day. Look at politicians for example, who’s to say that they don’t have an army of people to fix their every mistake at an instant. Looking at the life of iconic politicians will give you some good tips on how to turn a disaster into an opportunity.


1. Be a Fixer

Olivia Pope

A fixer handles what you cannot comprehend. Scandal’s Olivia Pope made this term famous with her ability to handle any idiotic thing her clients go about doing. Professional career fixers lurk in the murky world full of disgruntled CEOs struggling to rise above their failed corporate espionage, public relations campaigns and hostile takeovers. The best ones are expensive, so if you cannot afford one simply get their mindset. The fixer needs to know not only what happened but why. For instance, if you are an IT guy and the computer network crashed when the finance team was doing the company billing, it is your job to know why it did so before your boss or client gets the information. Lack of this information could get you fired. So investigate and understand and then explain why want went wrong, went wrong. That will re-establish their faith in you.

2. Aim to Be a Good Communicator

A good communicator speaks and passes their message effectively. He or she also influences people around them. You need people to listen to you whether you are selling a good, offering a service or just working with a colleague. Read books on effective communication, study biographies of great orators and attend seminars. As you improve your interpersonal skills, you will be more able to convince people that what happened was not your fault and that they should trust you to set it right. The key element is to know what message you want to pass. Keep your language simple but not condescending. Unlike in school, the use of big words is not effective in the workplace.

3. Lobby for Support at Work

You may feel down and out after your disaster but the trick is not to remain in that state. You may have sulked for hours as a toddler after being reprimanded by your cane-wielding parent but at work such an attitude quickly rubs people the wrong way. They quickly start ignoring you and you will lose respect faster than when Sarah Palin claimed that most people think Barack Obama wears mom jeans and Vladimir Putin wrestles bears. Take the cue from other politicians fresh from a scandal who immediately start lobbying for support and cover even before the repercussions of failure hit home. They will align with the power brokers and promise whatever they have to in order to retain their posts. They will even go further and get them to announce their support in the media. They may not keep all the promises but they are politicians and that is nothing new in that profession. You are not a politician so you will have to keep the promises that you make to avoid making a bad situation worse.

4. Clean Up Your Online Image

What is online about you is just as important as what is offline. Most people tend to ignore their online persona and actually spend more time studying celebrities than ensuring they have a professional outlook on the web. After a career disaster, this image is given a lot of attention. People that you do not know will Google you to see whether you are worth squat in the position that you were appointed. Your grouchy janitor will even be talking about you behind your back so this is the time to filter out anything negative about you that is on the Internet. You might not be able to correct or delete everything but the more professional you look, the better.

5. Become a Better Team Member

The colossal mistake that you made in your career not only affected you but also your colleagues. It largely impacted on teamwork and the ability to achieve company goals. Errant political party members are always disciplined. Some pay a high price for going against the agenda of a political party. They lose their roles, funding and cannot even attend cocktails where our next leaders are chosen. You did not think that it is only your vote that matters, did you? To avoid a similar fate at the workplace, put yourself out there to take on tasks and clients that are normally ignored or considered tough to handle. If you had a fall-out with your colleagues then you need to prove that you are willing to get back in the team. A politician will hand out fliers and even lick a bum’s shoe if he must in order to get back in the president’s inner circle.

6. Be a Phoenix

The media loves personalities under the weight of a scandal but they adore those who rise from the ashes like the Phoenix. Politicians have mastered this art but even other professionals have managed to maintain a level head. LA Lakers super basketballer, Kobe Bryant, emerged from his sex scandal stronger. He had some of his highest scoring games during this time. One might argue that his celebrity status even increased. Former US president Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky may have wallowed in the 1998 sex scandal but they both turned it around. Monica wrote a book and became a spokeswoman that fights against cyber bulling. She earned almost a million dollars from these deals. This happened after a decade of keeping out of the public eye but it shows that anyone could be a phoenix. The multi-millionaire home economics entrepreneur, Martha Stewart, emerged from an insider trading scandal even after serving jail term. Her television show regained its ratings and she was re-appointed to the board of her company. She then struck lucrative merchandising deals with Kmart, JCPenney and Sears.

7. Renew Your Spirit

After a moment of disaster on the job, you need to calm your inner self. You will probably have low self-esteem and a shaken spirit that needs some uplifting. From religion to yoga and every aspect of ascension in between, you will be spoilt for choice. You will find politicians all over the world heading to churches or starting charities almost immediately after a scandal. They will do all this with their families in tow showing their support. Whether it is to relieve themselves from their guilt or just simple PR, they view it as an important enough to matter. This shows their change of heart and willingness to ask for forgiveness not only for the purpose of a press conference, but also to their families. For those that are sincere, there is nothing more uplifting than helping others and positive reinforcement from someone you love. The take-home lesson from this is to take steps to contact those who make you feel better. Once your mind and soul is refreshed, you will be able to perform tasks without feeling too anxious.

See Also: 5 Common Legal Mistakes for Startups

Always remember that once you clock-in at work, whether it is your small home office, a skyscraper or even a farm, routine can easily become disaster when the next client or task that you are handling is more demanding than usual. This is where your skills and experience are paramount. In some instances, they are just not enough and everything goes wrong. This is where you have permission to look at a politician and wonder how he or she survived. Well, now you know.