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Crackin’ Under Pressure: Making Mistakes During Busy Season

As you may know or be experiencing right this very second, it's a stressful time of year for accountants and the people around them. Whether you're working on tax returns or year-end audits or any other professional number crunching activity, that stress can cause people to make mistakes. Some of those mistakes are big, some are small; some are significant, some are not. Regardless, mistakes are always mortifying to those who make them and, regardless of what you think, EVERYONE MAKES THEM. How you choose to deal with mistakes is usually the difference between a small problem, a big problem or maybe even looking for a new job.

I only bring this up because someone dropped us a link last week to this 8-K for Celldex Therapeutics that our tipster called the "Best 10-k fail of the year":

Celldex Therapeutics, Inc. (the “Company”) hereby announces that the Company’s financial printer inadvertently submitted the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015 (the “10-K”) while preparing a test file. While the Company does not anticipate any substantive changes to this document, today’s version of the 10-K should be disregarded and, as previously disclosed, the Company intends to release fourth quarter and year-end 2015 financial results and file its 10-K on Thursday, February 25, 2016 before the U.S. financial markets open. The Company’s executives will host a conference call at 8:00 a.m. EST on February 25th to discuss 2015 financial and business results and to provide an update on key 2016 objectives.

Yep! There's an extra 10-K in there, alright. But it's no big deal, Celldex seems to have bigger problems. Who knows what really happened, but I'm sure there's human in there somewhere who had to say, "Uh, my bad, guys." The important thing is they straightened it out fast. Not all mistakes are handled so well.

Personally speaking, I've always been the type to fess up right away. My thinking behind that is: 1) Keeping it to myself was always too nerve-wracking and 2) I prefer getting embarrassment over with as quickly as possible. On the occasions that I made a mistake at work and didn't confess right away, I'd spend endless nights dreaming about it, just waiting for a early morning call from someone who'd figured me out and planned an elaborate shaming. God, the dread. It's true that the fear of the thing is always worse than reality. But sometimes reality surprises you! So! That's why I gleefully admit to my mistakes.

Over to you all, now. How do you handle mistakes when the pressure's on? Did you ever let something go on too long and it morphed into an even bigger problem? Share your experiences below. The good, the bad, the stuff that got you fired.