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 | By Jim Berlucchi

I’m Afraid to Tell My Boss I Messed Up


I made a mistake at work that really caused a problem. My boss is a perfectionist and I’m afraid to tell him I screwed up.

Would you rather he find out some other way?

Most bosses, even perfectionists, admire employees who voluntarily admit their mistakes. And sheer self-interest argues for disclosure over concealment. One who fesses up shows humility, courage and accountability. Bosses like all three.

A friend of mine once confided that he was always quick to tell his boss of a mistake: “I’d rather she find out sooner than later, and straight from the horse’s mouth.” He was chomping at the bit to get off his high horse and humble himself. He not only stayed in the saddle, but his career went on to better pastures.

OK. You can stop reading this column right now. Giddy up.

Make sure you do everything you can to minimize the problem you caused. Come to your boss with as many solutions as possible. Admit your failure and pledge to do everything you can to make amends.

At the same time, don’t fall on your sword. You’re a human being, and ‘we all make many mistakes.” (Jas 3:2)

As for your boss, even perfectionists mess up. And if he’s extreme and unreasonable, you might be better off in a different job anyway. The heartburn isn’t worth it.