This summer at my internship, I had an experience that is evidence in support of tip number four in the six tips for creating a good work experience. One day while sitting at my desk working away, I was interrupted by a very angry head of the mailing department holding an oversized cardboard check. We had had that large check made for a formal ceremony coming at the end of the week and one of the interns had been tasked with making sure it would meet the full time employee in Atlanta, GA. Well, here was this huge check with a pretty permanent FedEx label slapped on the front and center of it. The head of the mailing department brought it to me and told me to take care of the situation. I had no clue who had done this but the only thing I knew was that I had not. Instead of coming up to me right then and letting me know his error, the other intern at his desk just watched me get in trouble for something we both knew I hadn’t done.
I then had to walk this big check to one of my superiors and explain the situation to her. I assured her that I had not made this silly mistake and after being dismissed, walked back to my desk to sit in embarrassment at what others thought I had done and finish my project. A little while later, we found out that one of the full time staff had put this task into the hands of that other boy intern. When I found out you can bet that I was not very impressed with him. Not only had he just sat there listening while I was sternly spoken to, but he had cost the department a lot of money and time through this error. I didn’t know it at the time, but my interactions with him for the rest of the summer were pretty similar to this first one. Luckily, I learned quickly to stand up for myself.
Business writer and businessman Andy Teach says, ” if you have one bad apple in the bunch, it can really hurt the morale and enthusiasm of the entire department”. This statement could not be more true and applies to last summer’s internship situation. There were four of us interns total and I was not the only one that was incorrectly accused. He made silly mistakes and everyone knew it so the full time staff began to reassign his work to the rest of us and in turn, overwork the three of us to make up for his ignorance. We all had the same feelings towards this kid and by the end of the summer I could not wait to get out of there.
Just as The Geek Leader’s Handbook says, it really is important to take the fall and speak up for the mistakes you may make in the workplace. It comes off as more honest and up-front as well as protects your colleagues from taking the blame and holding a grudge against you in return. When information is freely flowing, a more transparent work environment is created which leads to higher morale and a happier work life. An idea that I had never thought of before, but found in Forbes online is that perhaps if we are having a poor experience with coworkers, we should look internally first. It could be that their poor work and attitude is in response to something we are giving off ourselves.
My examples illustrate exactly why fessing up to mistakes immediately and working to resolve them is so important in creating a good work experience with others. Not only does it save you, but it creates workplace camaraderie and a heightened morale. In future situations, I think it will be important for me to remember to look inward first before accusing others have being rude or cold in the workplace.