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Restoring Credibility at Work Requires a Plan of Action

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Nine skills that will position individuals for advancement into management and inevitably distinguish them as leaders

What caused the loss of your credibility?

Restoring the credibility at work that you’ve lost is essential. Regardless, you need to understand how you got into this situation. Typically, little things are not a severe problem. However, when you mess up “big time,” you can lose credibility with your stakeholders, lenders, vendors, and even customers/clients. Whenever this happens at work, it can be challenging to regain the credibility you worked so hard to achieve.

You may have taken a “short-cut” to get something done quickly, and now you’re in trouble. Maybe you didn’t handle a customer’s problem adequately, and now the account is in jeopardy. Perhaps you took a significant risk, and it proved disastrous. You may have done something your employers may consider immoral, illegal, or unethical. You may have harmed someone by your actions, and now your employer is considering your possible termination.

The good news is that a loss of credibility doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. Restoring your credibility at work will involve rebuilding your reputation, and hopefully, restoring your business relationships. Undoubtedly, this project will take time and effort.

Restoring credibility at work requires objectivity

The reality is that one major mistake could cost you much of the credibility that has taken years to earn. Unfortunately, the average employee doesn’t realize what is required to restore credibility.

For example, the typical strategy used by many in this situation is the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. It’s popular because it parallels what the employee already wants to do, which is “hide.” This strategy calls for the employee to interact less, keep a low profile, and avoid doing anything that might draw unnecessary attention. The problem is that this strategy may re-define you as a non-essential employee.

Likewise, the typical employer isn’t sure how to effectively coach an employee in this situation. Once the employee has corrected the mistake, most employers wait to see if he/she will figure out what to do going forward. It’s a type of “sink or swim” approach.

A loss of credibility is not merely about losing the respect of others or your prior status. The following are among the practical problems, business issues, and career ramifications related to losing credibility at work. You may:

  • No longer enjoy the trust of your employer for significant tasks
  • Not receive further critical assignments
  • No longer enjoy the unofficial status of being the “go-to” person in difficult situations
  • Be “out-of-the-running” in consideration for advancement
  • Find yourself out-of-the-loop concerning crucial information
  • No longer be asked for your advice, opinions, or inputs about anything

Restoring credibility at work requires a strategic plan

As with handling any other mistake, regaining your credibility is more a matter of restoring confidence than asking forgiveness. I feel that a strategic, long-term approach to help restore confidence, regain the trust of others, and rebuild your reputation at work requires a strategic plan. I recommend that your plan include the following:

Work productively every day

You need to spend every moment doing something productive from the moment you arrive at work until you leave at the close of business. If you run out of things to do, ask someone if you can help them.

Keep your promises, tell the truth, and honor your commitments

A loss of credibility is a loss of trust. Thus, an essential factor in restoring your credibility at work involves restoring trust. You must become known for keeping your promises, telling the truth, and honoring your commitments.

When you tell someone that you will complete your work by a specific time, make sure you finish at that time. By always following through on what you promise, you rebuild your credibility by reinforcing your integrity and trustworthiness.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

If you do make a mistake, inform your employer (or your direct supervisor) before he/she comes to you. Offer to correct it and work diligently to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Do your research, so you always know your information is correct

Don’t just guess at the information needed to make an important decision or solve a problem. If you’re wrong, your credibility will suffer another setback. If you’re still unsure or feel your research is insufficient, don’t submit the information until you can defend it.

Maintain a positive attitude during stressful situations

Stressful situations are an opportunity for you to become known as someone who remains calm and even-tempered. A positive attitude will help you work well with others under stressful situations and circumstances.

Maintain an excellent on-time and attendance record

If you maintain a record of being on-time with an excellent attendance record, it will spill over into all areas of your work. Doing so will identify you as dependable and others will have greater respect for you and the work you do.

Restoring credibility at work requires patience and persistence

Losing credibility is the price you pay for big mistakes or making decisions that resulted in damage to your reputation or harm to others. How long you will pay this price, and how detrimental it is to your career, is ultimately up to you.

It takes time and intentional effort to restore a good reputation. However, by dedicating yourself to the strategies listed above, a loss of credibility doesn’t have to be a permanent condition.

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About the Author: David Cox

David Cox is a Co-owner of TPB Business Copyediting. He writes to encourage us to apply our multidisciplinary training and experiences to develop our current career role further.