Crazy Workplace Mistakes: Can They Be Fixed?

Otherwise, don't be surprised if you find yourself at the top of the layoff list next time budget cuts roll around, if not sooner.

Oops, Didn't Mean to CC You on That

It's old news that gossiping about co-workers or sending suggestive missives via e-mail on company time and equipment is asking for trouble. Either your message about how hideous the boss' outfit is gets intercepted by Big Brother or you accidentally cc the big cheese herself.

One woman I spoke to in New York (let's call her "Leslie") witnessed this carbon copy catastrophe while working as controller at the corporate headquarters of a retail chain.

"The company was run so poorly that any antics were tolerated," Leslie said. "It became custom for [my team] to randomly jump on each other's computer and send an e-mail to another employee within their circle."

"All is fun and games until one day, one woman sent an e-mail from a male employee to another employee that said something sexual. When she went to cc the rest of their circle, she erroneously cc'd the COO of the company."

Not surprisingly, HR was called to the scene and the errant e-mailer lost her job.

I realize lots of you are bored out of your skull at work. But imagine how bored you'll be watching eight hours of Court TV after collecting your pink slip.

When it comes to sending smutty, back-stabbing or otherwise inappropriate e-mails at work (not to mention hijacking a colleague's inbox), it can be tough to recover. Better to save any nasty opinions and not-safe-for-work humor for when you're off line and off work.

My Dog Ate the Product Release

Of course, try as we might to play by the corporate rules, we're bound to have a Homer Simpson moment at one time or another.

Just ask Rene Churchill, a software programmer in Waterbury Center, Vt. While cleaning up the storage space on his former employer's file server, he deleted a crucial product release the day it was slated to be sent to the company's biggest customers.

"After realizing that I'd screwed up, I went to the VP of engineering and told him first, jumping two layers of management," Churchill said. He also told the VP what steps he was taking to rebuild the release and when the fix would be ready.

"Once he understood that everything that could be done was being done, he wasn't too bent out of shape," Churchill said.

As for Churchill's immediate manager, "she was mostly relieved that she didn't have to break the bad news to the VP," he said.

According to Shapiro, Churchill did everything right. After all, management doesn't appreciate being blindsided.

"If they know that you're going to come to them and craft a strategy to work it out, it's going to make them trust you that much more," she explained.

"You want people to really think of you as a solid employee because when you do make a mistake you'll get a lot more leeway," Shapiro said.

"A lot of times if you're accused of something or there's a misunderstanding, your reputation may be the only thing that saves you."

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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