Prepare a “Failure Analysis.”
One of the pitfalls of starting off a new job energetically is that you
may stumble and make mistakes. To avoid damaging your
relationship with your boss and new peers, it’s important to have
already started aligning with them AND respond quickly and
professionally to correct any mistakes. In this exercise you will
analyze a past failure and apply the “Six Steps to Recovery” to it.
Failure = When the anticipated or expected results or level of
performance is not met. Expectations can be your own or those of
the person you are doing the activity for. Think of a time when
you failed. It can be at work or personal and is an event you can
describe, NOT a personality trait or bad habit. It should be a
scenario where your actions (or inaction) caused something to
Answer the following reflection questions about your failure:
1. What was the activity – Fully describe what you did that led
up to the failure. Structure this as a “chain of events.” These
are the actions that you took.
2. What was the expected result or level of performance – This
is different from what you were expected to do (actions). This
is the result of your actions (outcomes). Results should be
3. In retrospect, what should you have actually done to reach
your expected outcome? Revise your chain of events and
describe the actions that you should have taken.
4. Why did it not meet expectation – Explain how your results
Using this scenario as your example, apply the “Six steps to
recovery from a failure” model to what you did. How could you
have used this model to “recover” from your failure?
1. Acknowledge and apologize for your failure – To whom
should you apologize? Customer, colleague, boss or
supervisor, bystander? What will you say? How will you say
it to reinforce “alignment”?
2. Analyze what happened – Describe the chain of events, the
actions that you took. Where did things go wrong, what was
done wrong, what failed (action, tool, resources)? Was your
failure linked to anyone else’s actions? How did they
influence or impact you? Why did you fail to do what you
were supposed to do? Lack of info, lack of directions, lack of
execution? Be sure to justify and describe all of this.
3. Summarize lessons learned – Where in the chain of events
did the failure occur and what could have been done
differently. Do you need any additional tools, skills or
4. Make a detailed action plan to correct the failure – What will
be done differently for each item you identified in step 3.
How will you do it differently (overall) next time?
5. Set up frequent progress reports – How many meetings will
you need, how often should you meet, with whom will you
meet, what should be shared in these meetings? How will
you present your action plan in a way that reinforces
6. Set up a closure meeting – Describe fully what you will
discuss at this meeting.
Complete the form below to document your answers
What was the activity?
What was the expected result or level of performance ?
In retrospect, what should you have actually done to reach
your expected outcome?
Why did it not meet expectation?
How could you have used the six-step model to recover from
Analyze what happened:
Summarize lessons learned:
Make a detailed action plan to correct the failure:
Set up frequent progress reports:
Set up a closure meeting
The Career Cycle-Action Assignment on Failure Analysis
Prepare a “Failure Analysis.”