I messed up at work today. It wasn’t a little whoopsie goof it was a big, ohmygosh-what-have-I-done moment. I am not proud of it at all. Heck, I’m really embarrassed about it. But, I want to challenge myself to take the high road, be mature, reflect and learn from it.
Earlier that morning, a colleague had asked to meet with me about the Contact Us form on the website. She asked if we could make some of the fields required or make some changes to it. I thought to myself, yeah that should be a simple fix. I’ve never messed with that form in our WordPress before and I knew nothing about it. But I was confident it wouldn’t be that hard and I would be able to figure it out. I log in to WordPress, find the form, make some changes, and send a test form to myself to double check the changes took effect. Nothing happens. I send another form. Still nothing comes through. Aw man.
I start to wonder what’s going on. I update the plugin in WordPress thinking maybe that was the problem. I go to lunch, come back and still neither of my test messages from the website have worked. The form is broken. I dig around WordPress and see a Deactivate button and I think that means “revert to a previous version of the plugin, like before I updated it.” I don’t think it means “delete all form data and all forms.” I press the big red button.
I realize that I’ve deleted our website forms and the past submission data. I’m horrified. How could I have done this? I dig through and realize the forms are not backed up anywhere, there’s been no internal record of what the forms were, which ones they were, or anything. I realize this is not something I can hide or fix myself.
I call my boss on the phone because she was driving out of town. She picks up the phone and asks “Is everything alright, Debbie?” and I say “No. I made a really big mistake and accidentally deleted the forms from the website. I was working too quickly and didn’t know what I was doing and now the Contact Us form is gone. I’ve called IT and am planning to tell the rest of the team.” My boss said things would be alright and told me what steps I needed to do next.
I think the younger Debbie would’ve waited to tell her boss until her boss somehow found out about it from another person. I think I would’ve been so ashamed, terrified and embarrassed, I would’ve scrambled to keep it a secret and try to fix it myself (which I could not do.) I think my younger self would’ve cried in the bathroom, thought about blaming someone else and called my parents for help. I don’t want to be that person.
I had to tell my boss’ boss and the Chief Information Officer what I’d done. I wanted to just crawl into a hole and not come out. How am I supposed to be this super adulting digital marketing pro when I made a huge effing preventable mistakes like this? This isn’t a typo, it’s a disappearance of part of the website.
I texted Nate and that helped calm me down a bit and remember I could get through this. He works as a software engineer and so was able to understand what had happened and brainstorm some solutions with me.
I called our website developer and spoke with them about what had happened. Dealing with the mistake took all afternoon.
Before I left for the day, I emailed my boss and her boss a recap of what had happened, what I’d done to try to fix it and questions I had. I of course apologized again for causing such a mess in the first place. I wanted to keep them informed and own up to what I’d done.
What helped me stay calm in a moment of personal crisis was remembering what I’d read in the book Ask a Manager. She talked about what to say to your manager when you make a mistake. I loved this book and took photos of my library book and saved them in a Google Doc.
The author Alison Green advises after you make a mistake, let your manager know immediately, explain clearly what happened and how it happened, take ownership and responsibility and explain how you’re going to make sure this never happens again.
I’m going to learn more about WordPress and until then I’m going to stick to the WYSIWYG editors and stay the heck out of the plugins or anything else I am not 110% confident in.