Fix Something You Didn’t Break

The Awkward Moments at Work and When Should You Take Responsibility?

A proofreader’s job is to correct grammar, spelling and typing mistakes made by others. Fixing things they didn’t break is what proofreaders get paid to do. However, most job descriptions do not include fixing coworkers’ mistakes. Nonetheless, a survey conducted by Business Insider found that more than half of us waste time on the job fixing coworkers’ mistakes. When is it acceptable—even expected—to fix something you didn’t break at work?

Damage Control for Safety Issues

If you’ve discovered a coworker’s mistake that puts anyone’s safety at risk, such as a drug dosage error in a hospital, you should fix it immediately, if possible, or report it so that someone else more qualified can take action. Finding out who made the error is secondary to restoring safety. After the mistake has been corrected, then inquire about how it occurred and make sure the person who is to blame understands what went wrong and why it can’t happen again. If the error breaks a company policy, government regulation or law, the worker should be disciplined accordingly.

Damage Control for Embarrassing Situations

Right in the middle of a presentation to a client, everyone in the board room overhears a yelling match between two employees from the other side of the wall. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s horrific, because nothing you say in your presentation now will reflect on your company as much as the angry words drifting through the wall will. Your client immediately loses confidence, and you’ve possibly lost a sale.

If there are other people from your company in the presentation meeting, instruct one of them to immediately go see what the problem is in the other room. If you are making the presentation alone, excuse yourself and go in the other room to tell the angry coworkers to quiet down or take it outside. Return to your meeting as quickly as possible and explain that you are as shocked as they are at this unprofessional behavior. Assure the client that this has never happened before and that appropriate measures are being taken to solve the problem. Do not make an attempt at humor; doing so could give the impression that you do not take your business—or your client’s money—seriously.

Occasional Minor Mistakes

If you find occasional minor mistakes that you can quickly fix yourself, do so and move on. Most likely, this is what you would want your colleagues to do if they discover one of your minor slips. Even the best workers have off days.

Frequent Minor Mistakes

If you discover frequent mistakes, however, you should not continually fix them. If you supervise the worker making the mistakes, take appropriate educational or disciplinary action.

If you are in a subordinate position, then speak to that person’s supervisor. Make an appointment for a private meeting and bring with you all of the evidence of the errors. Is this awkward? You bet it is, especially if the person consistently making mistakes is your boss. Yet, consider the consequences if you do not report the errors. If you keep covering for your boss, not only does it strain your ability to get your own work done in a timely manner, but it could also undermine your chances for recognition. How will it feel if your boss gets a promotion or a big fat raise for exemplary job performance that you were partly responsible for?

Routinely fixing what others have broken could end up being your biggest mistake—one that only you can fix.

Exclusive offer: New customers can speak to a psychic for ONLY $1 per minute. Select your psychic advisor here.

What’s ahead for your career path? Try a psychic reading. Call 1.800.573.4830 or choose your psychic now.

One thought on “Fix Something You Didn’t Break

  1. chloeChloe ext. 9421

    Excellent advice Theresa!

    I would also add that it’s important (especially if you’re frustrated by the situation) not to bring your emotions or personal opinions about a co-worker into any professional meeting.

    If you absolutely need to vent (to keep your emotional sanity) chose someone who is not connected to your work environment. Get it out of your system before you approach the situation.

    Thanks so much for the helpful advice Theresa.

    Love & Light!

    ~Chloe (ext. 9421)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *