Something bad happened at work. How do I get my confidence back?

If anything is true of a career in procurement, it’s that it won’t all be smooth sailing. You might have bad days, bad weeks, or even bad months, but often, you’ll bounce back more resilient than ever. 

What happens when something so bad happens that it knocks your confidence about? Something so embarrassing, or so consequential, that you no longer feel competent or confident in anything you do? 

As anyone who has had their confidence damaged knows, it’s extremely difficult to work (let alone succeed) when you’re feeling this way. 

Here’s how to rebuild your confidence after a particularly crushing incident. 

  1. Put your issue in perspective and challenge your inner dialogue 

Whether it’s a catastrophic supply chain issue, a supplier gone wrong, or a failed sustainability initiative, there’s certainly a lot that can (and does) go wrong in procurement. 

These incidents can feel particularly challenging if you were personally responsible for the issue, and your decisions negatively impacted others. 

If this has happened to you, though, the first thing to do is to put your issue into perspective and challenge your inner dialogue on how you view it. For example: 

  • Instead of saying ‘that was a career-defining mistake: my colleagues will now permanently think I’m incompetent’, say, ‘I’ll have to work hard to rebuild the trust I had before – but I know I can do it’
  • Instead of saying ‘that was a catastrophic mistake that affected my team and cost the company money’, say, ‘I’ve learnt a lot from that mistake and can now prevent myself and others from making it.’ 

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that no one is perfect, and your procurement colleagues will be impacted not just by your mistake, but from your reaction: if you admit what you’ve done and endeavour to learn from it and make it right, you’ll regain their trust quickly. 

  1. Lean in to your mentor 

From a career perspective, no one can help you overcome bad events and help you succeed like a mentor. 

Among other things, mentors can be particularly helpful if something bad has happened at work, especially if this event involves others. 

Effective mentors have the benefit of a different perspective, which can be critical when overcoming a bad event at work. If you’re struggling to get your confidence back, talk about the incident in detail with your mentor, including why and how it happened, and how it makes you feel. 

Your mentor should be able to provide guidance, advice and reassurance about what has occurred, and help you overcome whatever you’re feeling. 

  1. Focus on professional development 

When your confidence has taken a hit at work, the worst thing that you can do is ruminate on what happened and why. In order to stop yourself doing that, the best thing to do is focus on some additional professional development or another work-related goal. 

Perhaps you want to become CIPS accredited? Maybe there are leadership skills you’d like to develop? Have you made a 5 year procurement career plan and are you working towards it? Whatever your goal is, creating a plan and taking active steps towards achieving it will help you give you focus, energy and the confidence you need to move past whatever has happened. 

Have you had something bad happen at work? How did you move past it and get your confidence back? Let us know in the comments below.