Movie B-School: Rebounding from a work mistake

3 minute read


Everyone makes mistakes at work, but not everyone knows how to react and repair. Mean Girls offers super fetch lessons in the last half hour on how to save face and make things right when you have wronged. Hopefully your office wrong-doing doesn’t involve fattening up the office succubus, but hey…YOLO. If what you’ve done is as massive as Lindsay Lohan’s rap sheet, then you may need more HR help than this article provides. However, if you’ve made a recoverable misstep, keep reading. And remember:

Movie B-School: Mean Girls I North by Northwest Boise

If La Lohan can bounce back from 2010, then you can do it, too.

*Except her face. Her face did not bounce back.

**In the spirit of the movie, Lindsay Lohan is going to get picked on in this post. Don’t worry, it seems in real life she’s a mean girl herself, and thrift stores are overflowing with “Team Lohan” shirts…so we’re good here.

Movie B-School: Mean Girls I North by Northwest Boise

1. I just have a lot of feelings

Realizing you’ve made a mistake is incredibly stressful – there’s a moment where your brain takes you through the five steps of grief as you mourn the possible loss of your employment. It takes Cady a bit to understand that the only way up was down. Once she decided to “suck the poison” out of her life, she began the recovery process from her mistakes.

Forbes Magazine wrote an awesome article on recovering from an office mishap, which tells readers to “have a plan, and have a back-up plan.” Now that you’ve realized your mistake, make a plan of action for how you will make it right and who you need to notify.

Movie B-School: Mean Girls I North by Northwest Boise

2. Caroline Kraftt

The second step is owning up to what you’ve done. Lohan’s Cady has a moment of realization when she’s standing on stage with the Mathletes, staring down her opposition in the final round which would determine whether her team won their dork award or not.

“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”

Cady finally takes responsibility for the thought process she has been adhering to since she became shiny, cold, hard Plastic. Although she accepted punishment for the Burn Book in an earlier scene, it was at this moment she truly realized she was being a big jerk. It’s nearly impossible to rectify a mistake if you can’t admit you made it, and blaming someone else will catch up to you eventually, just as Lindsay’s DUI did. In the aforementioned Forbes article, the writer, Jessica Kleiman, highly advises you “don’t make excuses — just apologize for any misstep, miscommunication or oversight on your part.” Ms. Norbury couldn’t have said it better herself. Keep your admission simple, sincere, and straightforward.

Movie B-School: Mean Girls I North by Northwest Boise

3. Word vomit

Your action plan should include tactics to fix the problem, or ideas on how to fix it, at the very least. When Cady went forward with making things right, she didn’t know how she was going to do it, but knew she had to. Kleiman suggests you start by, “considering your end game…and work backwards from there.”

Movie B-School: Mean Girls I North by Northwest Boise

You go, Glen Coco.

At this point, you’ve realized your mistake, made a plan of action, owned up to it, and hopefully resolved the issue. Assuming again the misstep wasn’t a Lindsay-level screw-up, time will heal wounds, and it’s important at this point to take in the lesson you’ve learned. Soak it up, baby, because you likely don’t want to go through this again. Glen Coco would be proud of you!

(Images viavia, via, via, via, via)


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About the Author
Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.


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