The Reason Why Some People ‘Fail Up’ at Work

Office Charm

We have all encountered at least one person who screwed up badly and who we expected to get booted from the company soon after.

Instead, they inexplicably continue to have a job, or more bafflingly, even get promoted. It can feel maddening to see, especially when you are working hard and not getting new opportunities.

It is something The Wall Street Journal recently explored, how some people seem to have the uncanny ability to fail and still get better opportunities.

So how do people like that manage to avoid any consequences for their screw-ups?

You might assume it has to be nepotism, that the employee is just related to the boss somehow and gets kept around as a favor. But it can also be how that person responds to their moments of failure.

What you might not be privy to are moments where that seemingly incompetent worker owned up to their mistake and came up with a plan to fix it. A response like that helps restore faith in their ability.

However, there is also no denying that charm can definitely make a difference. If the office failure is known to be a personable, funny person, people are often more willing to take pity and give them another chance. Like they say, fake it until you make it.

If you give off a confident attitude, people will often assume you know what you are doing.

In short, in addition to the many other areas good people skills will help your career, it can also help give you job security. Even if you do work hard, maybe you could actually learn something from those who are advancing despite their failures.

It also demonstrates one of the advantages for those not working remotely. It is much more difficult to build connections with people from afar. So if you had to return to the office against your wishes, do not assume there are no upsides there.

To learn more about why some seem to be rewarded for failure, read the Wall Street Journal article here.


Wilmington University, the sponsor of BUCKSCO Today — Career Corner, is a private, open-access institution that serves more than 20,000 adults, including those seeking advancement through higher education and traditional-age students who aspire to become successful global citizens.

One of the most affordable private universities in the Delaware Valley, WilmU is committed to the idea that finishing an undergraduate degree or obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree can be affordable and accessible.

The University offers over 200 accredited and career-relevant degree and certificate programs in flexible online and hybrid formats designed to accommodate adults of all ages who work full- or part-time or juggle demanding career, family, and personal schedules.

Learn more about WilmU here or register to attend one of the University’s webinars. You will find information about academic programs, flexible scheduling options, tuition, admissions, student services, athletics, and more.