I Thought I Dealt With An Error?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about one’s evaluation based on two¬† errors.

I work as a medical professional. I like to believe that I am a very diligent employee (and previous performance reviews confirm this). But over several weeks I made several mistakes- two of them were very, very common errors related to medications/prescriptions, although in this professional, any error can have potential life/limb-damaging consequences.

One of them was a miscommunication- whilst I concede responsibility; I feel that I shouldn’t be the only person wearing all the blame. When the first mistake was pointed out to me, I thought I dealt with it. I called up the persons involved, fixed it, and apologized profusely. In the 2nd instance one of my colleagues sorted out the problem for me- and afterwards I thanked her and apologized also. However, at the very time that these mistakes were being pointed out, I was otherwise engaged in what I thought another important and concentration-demanding task- so I delayed in handling it, and my tone of voice was also dismissive.

Covering up my mistake was never my intent- postponing one task after another was.So despite my diligence and effort, I was told that because of these mistakes, I wasn’t performing and I was told that I must have mental health issues. This is not true- although I do get stressed when under time pressure and I can react in a snappy way- even though I have full intent of bearing the responsibility of the error. But what I find hurtful is that I was told that I am under performing for my level of experience, despite all evidence showing otherwise- until these incidences occurred.

My friends in the same industry think that my bosses are overreacting, but they may just be trying to make me feel better. So I want to know where I went wrong. Because I sincerely thought I had dealt with these events in the best way I know how, and no one came to any harm.

Signed, Stressed But Mentally Healthy

Dear Stressed But Mentally Healthy:

These two mistakes, fortunately, were not life threatening, and you know that they were common and that any mistakes in your profession are serious. You apologized. You have acknowledged that you delayed in handling one of them due concentrating on another and therefore your tone was dismissive. This is to say that from your analysis, it appears to me that you did the best you could and realize your error. However, to be told by your superior that “must have mental health issues” signals that you have some work to do on how you handle interaction with your coworkers. I think your boss used language that is more appropriate for those qualified in psychology. It would have been better to characterize your behavior as you did.

Be that as it is you are learning that you can improve on how you communicate interpersonally. From this distance, it seems to me that you know where you went wrong and simply want some assurance that you did the best you could to correct your mistake. You feel your boss is wrong to be told “under performing for my level of experience”. That hurts now and is will for a while.

You can swallow this and determine to do good work despite that or you can allow it to fester and sour you on your bosses. It bothered you enough that you have sought confirmation that you are “OK” from friends. They stated your bosses were over-reacting, but also were “may just be trying to make me feel better”. So they must have also given you some assurance that you will survive this unhappy incidence in your career.Will you? I think you will.

You are a part of an important caring career. It is stressful and you now have this lesson that will guide you to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of it, and to prevent some of them. My advice? My advice is to let this be past. Don’t talk to yourself about in again and again. Don’t gossip with friends or coworkers about your bosses. It’s sure to get back to them. Don’t paint your bosses as wrong for their inappropriate use of “mental health issues”.

Many ordinary folk use the wrong language when they put a label on someone else’s behavior. As the years go by, you probably will become a boss and will apply what you’ve learned to make yourself be a better boss than you’ve had. Rather for now do as you are doing to deliver superior service and to correct your occasional “snappy way”. I recommend that you get the book Fish Tales. You and your work group might benefit from the adaption that different work organizations made to the way Seattle’s Pike Place Fish mongers did their jobs. I won’t explain more because I am baiting you to read it. If any of these thoughts help you through this trying time, I hope you will let me know. My advice is summed up in my signature sentence that urges you to think big: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden