Your Career Q&A: Learning from Your Mistakes


Hello, my name is Felix, and I am from Ghana, West Africa. I work as an HR generalist, and for the past few months I have not been contacted on issues of HR. Instead, a private secretary seems to be playing my role. I confronted my boss about it and requested that I be communicated with regarding HR decisions. Nothing seems to have changed, and I intend to leave the firm. I need advice.

Thank you,


Having an unsettling experience at a new job or having something suddenly seem off at a job that had been going well can happen to anyone at one time or another. It has happened to me—as delightful as I think I am.

Each case is unique. You say you’re planning to search for a new job because you’ve felt blocked from executing your responsibilities. After you’ve raised your concerns with management, nothing has changed. Based on the info you’ve offered, your future with the company does not look promising, so making a move seems like a smart idea.

Is Rewriting the Story Possible?

Make every effort to remedy the current situation while you prepare and execute your confidential job search. No manager likes to have problems with an employee. You most likely bear some responsibility for this situation. If you reject that notion, as might be your gut reaction, then you are doomed to repeat the behaviors that got you into this situation in the first place. Learn from your mistakes, and you can put your future on a better path.

You said you “confronted” your boss. I hope you meant “discussed” the problems with your boss, because you can never win in a confrontation with management. It will be held against you in both the short and long term, and one thing you don’t want is to be branded as having a confrontational attitude—that’s career suicide.

I suggest another meeting with your boss. If you did have a confrontation, start with a sincere and heartfelt apology and acknowledge that you’ve done your best but have also made mistakes and want to put things right. Tell your boss you’d appreciate an explanation of what you have been doing incorrectly and any advice to help turn things around.

No matter what your boss says, don’t argue or defend yourself, because you cannot win this one. Just listen, and you may well learn how to fix the situation. And, even if making things right in this job isn’t possible, you are still receiving valuable input to help avoid this situation in the future.

Like it or not, your actions most likely have had a role in creating the situation you find yourself in today. So listen to your manager’s point of view, and take notes to show you are paying attention. Next, refer to those notes, repeat back your understanding of the advice that has been offered and earnestly commit to making the recommended changes. Then whole-heartedly follow through on your commitment.

The Best Offense Starts with a Good Defense

You want to be able to make this job change on your own terms and in your own time, and then hand in your resignation when you have a new job. Don’t quit until you have a new job, if for no other reason than it is easier to find a job when you already have one. Ignore this advice at your peril.

Create a new, job-targeted resume and execute a confidential job search. Don’t discuss your plans at work because so many people gossip.

Hang in there, improve the “professional you” as best you can while executing your job search, and start that next job with the benefit of having learned from your mistakes … and we all learn most from our own mistakes.


Leave a Reply

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