It is never easy being an executive, especially when things go wrong. Whether it is a wardrobe malfunction or sending an inappropriate email, executives will always face more scrutiny than others in a company. Here are the top 5 mishaps to avoid, and the remedy for those oops occasions that happen every so often.
1. Dress for (No) Success: It is a scorching hot summer day and humidity levels are almost up to 100 percent. Business casual does not seem too appealing, so you don shorts, flip flops and a golf shirt. After all, you basically run the company, so why not? But when you arrive in the office, you realize one of your VIP clients is standing in the lobby, dressed in the mandatory suit and tie, waiting to begin the very important meeting you had forgotten. What to do? The best approach is to be candid and say, “As you can see, I decided to go casual today.” And then carry on, as if nothing happened.
2. Email enemy. Many office-related embarrassments are linked to technology, or more specifically, email. Sending the wrong email to the wrong person is not only embarrassing but it can have devastating effects. Imagine writing a message to your significant other complaining about your very annoying colleague. Also, imagine the horror when you realize how your written rants and raves have been sent to that very same annoying person. How do you remedy this situation? Take this opportunity to turn this faux pas into something constructive by opening a dialogue with the aforementioned colleague. You two can have have an honest discussion about what went wrong in your work relationship.
3. Slip of the tongue. Sometimes we speak before we think, which can lead to awkward situations. You are on a call with a new client, and everything is going well until it comes time to say goodbye: You accidentally call him a pet name used for your spouse. How to get out of this little jiffy? The best thing to do is laugh about it and apologize. A simple, “I’m sorry, I’m used to calling my wife/husband that!” will prevent any awkwardness from ensuing.
4. Virus warning: Computer viruses are not only a pain to get rid of but they can also jeopardize your work or your reputation. Unsuspecting executives who surf the Internet could accidentally download a virus that installs inappropriate content onto their computers. Of course, this happens when you least expect it; one minute, you are showing a PowerPoint presentation on revenue growth, the next second, there is nudity and a different representation of growth on the screen for everyone to see. How to save face here? Scapegoating rarely helps, so the best approach is to acknowledge there is a security issue that needs to be fixed, and then look forward. Bring in cybersecurity experts to help implementing safer networks; however, start by adopting fundamental computer-security measures first, such as updating anti-virus software.
5. Be a grammar Nazi. These days, most executives use spell check to ensure written content does not have any typos. However, spell check alone does not guarantee error-free writing. Make sure to read any text you have written at least once before passing it forward. If you are unsure of grammatical rules, there is always someone in the office who is a former spelling bee champion or an English major. You definitely do not want to be known as the person who signs an email with “head of pubic relations.”