Yes, arts marketers and marketers in general are kind of like super heroes. They transition from mild mannered every day person into a caped crusader at the drop of a hat and have to wear many hats while doing their job.
But, we are still human and prone to making mistakes. These can come from a simple copy error to a major mistake in budgeting and planning. Whatever the mistake may have been, it’s vital that we recover from our failures. In this post, here are five steps to take if you’ve failed.
It’s never easy to admit or go through a mistake, no matter the size or scope. If you’re like me, it’s embarrassing, humiliating, and makes me want to crawl in a hole and stay there for a long time. But, we all know that work has to be done and we have to recover and get back on track quickly.
First, take ownership of the failure
The best thing that you can do if you’ve made a mistake is to own the problem and the mistake. This is the hardest but the most important part of the process of recovery. Understand what your mistake cost the organization and why it was damaging or potentially damaging to the work your organization does. How did the mistake happen, what was the cause and what were the results?
The important thing throughout this process is to never blame others or shift blame off of yourself. That will do no good for anyone.
Second, admit your mistake to your superiors
We’ve all been there before, a tense meeting with your boss where you enter the office, shut the door, and deliver the bad news. Chances are, they may already know. But, it’s critical that you meet with them to discuss the event and be as transparent as possible about what happened, why it happened, and that it won’t happen again.
In this meeting, you’ll need to have a posture of humility and genuine remorse for what happened. When discussing the incident, you may very well need to ask for advise in how to move forward, correct the issue, and move on. However, depending on your time with the organization, you may already know how to recover without doing so.
Third, admit your mistake to your colleagues
What I’m not saying is that you should air your dirty laundry with everyone. That would be a mistake in itself. Rather, consider the effect it had on the team and people you work with, fellow junior marketing staff, for example. You don’t have to go into great detail but be sure that you share enough to help others avoid the costly or damaging mistake. It won’t be easy, but if you’re real and honest and open, your colleagues will respect your honesty and trust you. They may ask you though, “if you know so much then why didn’t you know to prevent this?”
Fourth, correct the mistake as best as you are able
It would be easy to simply edit the social media post with the glaringly obvious typo. Just go in and edit the post. Easy enough. But, for the more complex mistakes you’ll need to go into crisis mode and contact vendors, suppliers, artistic talent, managers, et. al. to correct and fix the mistake. Depending on the matter, do what ever it takes to fix the issue and move on.
Fifth, spend some time in reflection
Let’s assume that you’ve come out of the experience alive and well. Now is the time to spend some time reflecting on the experience. The goal here is to process what you learned and gain some self improvement and tighten up processes and procedures within your team and organization.
The mistake may have been a systemic one, meaning that there may have been procedural deficiencies that lead up to the error. If this is true, then you may need to create new processes or procedures so that the error doesn’t happen again. You might consider creating something in Asana or other task management system.
The mistake may have been an error in communication. This is where one party misunderstands the other(s). In this instance you’ll have to improve your communication skills to include maybe more meetings with each other, or more check-ins via email, Slack, phone calls, or other means.
Whatever the mistake’s root cause, this time of reflection should be use to improve yourself and your team so future errors aren’t committed. Journal it, write it out, draw through it, whatever you need.
Even though arts marketers and marketers in general are super hero type people, we are prone to mistakes of varying severities. When mistakes are made, we should always take ownership of the failure, admit mistakes to our superiors, share what we’ve learned with our colleagues, work like crazy to solve and correct the error, and reflect on the experience for the purposes of self improvement and organizational betterment.
Now it’s your turn. How can marketers recover from failures and mistakes? What’s been your experience? Let us know in the comments below.