5 Steps For When You Screw Up

This last week I made a huge mistake. I double booked myself for only the second time in my career. I was dumb and misread my calendar while talking on the phone with the client, and I had to call them back and cancel the next day when I discovered the error. 

 

While the easiest way to get around this kind of unprofessional behavior is to be more careful at the beginning of interacting with a client, there are some ways you can patch things up on the back end. Here’s the steps I took to help make it right: 

 

1. I owned my mistake and apologized. 

 

It’s really important when trying to correct a problem to not blame others for your mistake. Apologize genuinely while quickly explaining why you made the error. There’s no need to ramble on with excuses. Most people don’t really care why you screwed up, and are more concerned with how you’re going to fix the problem. 

 

2. I followed up as quick as I could once I figured out the error. 

 

Don’t avoid the problem. Once you’ve made a mistake, reach out immediately to the people involved to find a solution. Putting off talking to them only gives them less time to figure out a workaround, and will probably make the problem much worse. 

 

3. I communicated with everyone involved. 

 

Don’t assume that by talking to a single person about what’s going on is going to fix the problem. When I responded to the group, I wrote both the music director and the tour manager a quick apology letter detailing what was going on so everyone was on the same page. 

 

2. I helped them find a replacement. 

 

If you cancel on a client it’s important to try and find someone of equal quality as yourself to take your place.  I spent a couple of hours on the phone with about two dozen keyboard players, and finally found one that would do a great job.

As a bonus to you, looking for a sub is a great way to reconnect with your peers and might translate into them calling you about sub work in the future. 

 

5. I followed up afterward to make sure it was taken care of. 

 

After the show was done I followed up with the group to see how the person I recommended had done at the show. Follow up lets you show that you haven’t forgotten about them, and that you genuinely care about making sure they were taken care of.

Also, it’ll give you a bead on how well the person you recommended played (which can help you make better sub recommendations in the future).