Being wrong

by Julie
(Sterling, Il )

I work as a teller at a small bank. I just started one month ago and I am still making quite a few mistakes. Silly ones too. My anxiety gets the better of me at times and my brain just shuts off.


I forgot to look at a check to verify an endorsement. He did not endorse the check and I gave him cash. This is a very critical mistake in banking.

My co-worker addressed my error while I was with another customer. He stopped talking to me and addressed my supervisor. He stated he "felt bad" to my supervisor that he had to tell me I made this error while I am right there waiting on another customer. My supervisor consoled him not to worry about discussing my error with me and that I have to learn how to do a better job checking my work.

How do I handle this situation without being right. I feel my supervisor isn't in the business of consoling my co worker about telling me of my error. It isn't about him. I don't feel my supervisor needs to be discussing my error with a co worker. I find that I made a mistake and I need to be addressed for what I did by my supervisor in private.

Any thoughts. I know I was wrong in my mistake however, I don't think this was a mature way to handle it from my co worker and supervisor. Do I address it or leave it?

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Jan 28, 2013
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From Stephanie of Work Stress Solutions
by: Stephanie Goddard

Hi Julie:

You are right about the improper handling of this situation in front of a customer. But that doesn't mean you get to say so. Let's start there.

Your coworker is the one in the most awkward position here. And you may wish to have a conversation where you thank them for the feedback and that you want to let them know that you understand how hard that interaction must have been for them. This will seal your reputation as someone who is willing to improve, understands you will make mistakes, and empathizes with office politics and that you do not hold this person responsible (you don't shoot the messenger, in other words). What I hope will also happen here, is that any gossip about your mistake will be stopped by this person...who will see you as mature and professional going forward. I also hope they will strike an agreement with you to handle that sort of thing privately going forward, simply because they respect this gesture on your part and have come to, therefore, respect you.

You seem humble and bright and willing to do a good job. There are no finer qualities in an employee. You WILL make mistakes. And in finance/banking that is a big deal. To quickly admit your nerves, your desire to do well, your understanding of the critical nature of errors...will go a long way with the supervisor too. He/she is in a difficult position. They can't be everywhere at once, and errors from his/her team is his/her error---not yours. Supervisors are in a thankless role. They get all of the blame, but when their team does well, it is the TEAM that gets the glory. Try to see the anxiety THIS role produces and see his direction to your coworker to correct you immediately and publicly as coming from this fear.

I would also have a "clean up" conversation with the supervisor. Express that you understand that was a troubling error, and that you will likely not make that mistake again. If you are brave enough, it would be great if you could have this talk all at one time (with your peer and your supervisor) and assure them you are working hard to earn their trust and are open to suggestions and correction.

To be defensive here, is to admit you are not going to work out. If you genuinely feel this is a match for you, then be willing to take this type of over-reaction until you are excellent at this work. Money is ALWAYS tied to heavy emotions and your supervisor is not exempt from this truth.

SLOW DOWN. Play a game with yourself. The Perfect Game. For the next hour, you will do everything perfectly. Counting your drawer, manners to your customers, adding and re-adding columns, etc. Don't get down on yourself when you "lose." You are NOT perfect. And neither am I. And we really do learn from our mistakes.

Good luck, Julie!

Work Stress Solutions
Stephanie Goddard

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