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This Big HR Mistake Has Your Name On It. Pray It Doesn't End Your Career....

You know the drill.  If you've been in the HR game for more than 5 years in a position of authority, it's happened to you.  You're trying to build consensus on really nasty issues behind the scenes, and it requires emailing spreadsheets of confidential information around.  And you've made some type of mistake related to who you sent it to.

When you make the mistake, you can only hope that it's a small one, not a huge one. Whoops

This is a huge one.  Godspeed to this person, because her job really sucks right now.  People are questioning her credibiity and intelligence, but it happens to everyone at some point.  It's just that hers was about as big as this common mistake comes.  More from TechCrunch:

"The suspense on the day of the layoffs was a continuation of a pattern at BuyWithMe. Employees were often kept in the dark about changes affecting the entire livelihood of the company. Most assumed the company was healthy. In September, our new Chief Marketing Officer was talking about Superbowl ads, and shares in the company were meted out to employees. Just three weeks ago, a new copywriter was hired, leaving a job in publishing. Though there were signs that BuyWithMe was not as competitive in the group-buying “deal space” as it would have liked, the company emphasized that it maintained a strong position—claiming the number three position behind Groupon and LivingSocial.

But the scale tipped suddenly two Mondays ago. An email, accidentally delivered to a team of developers instead of the executive team, leaked a spreadsheet with names, titles, and proposed termination dates, as well as individual salaries, of a large number of employees within the company. Rumors gathered momentum in between the leak and the announcement of layoffs, but the company waited an entire day to say anything officially."

Oh Sh##.  There's no way to recover.  This is why you sit at the computer looking at the email addresses you're sending this spreadsheet to like you're proofing a document that will be seen by 1,000 of the most influential people in the world.

And still, we're human, so we screw it up.

There's a mistake like this out there with your name on it if you're in HR.  Let's hope you email out everyone's heath insurance enrollment (just single coverage?  Is Shirley finally divorced?  I heard she was sleeping with her tennis instructor on the side.  I knew that relationship was doomed) rather than a RIF list with salaries.

Godspeed to you, HR pros.



Every HR Pros worst nightmare. Even when you don't do it, you experience that moment of "ah, $h!t" after you hit send on that highly confidential e-mail and frantically check sent mail for the distribution list. We've all been there. That one moment can kill your credibility as a leader.


Yeah, most of the time that same mistake isn't such a big one, but an HR person in this position is in a place of stress to begin with and, *sigh*, it happens.

I hope that person had a dear friend or loved one that comforted her that evening.


Everyone should double check the addresses in the "To" field before clicking send - the same goes for selecting "Reply All". A simple mistake like this can look really bad on a person, and possibly even the company they work for. You can never be too cautious when sending an email.

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I don't know if I agree with "there's no way to recover." She may lose her job, and there's certainly no way to ignore or deny what she did. But this is an experience that can either be the end of her career or the beginning of her transformation into a strong, effective, and, most importantly, humble leader.

We all have a choice as to whether or not our "nightmare experiences" define who we are, or develop us into who we want to be.

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