Everybody screws up sometimes. But when you’re the boss, the way you make amends means even more.
If staffers doubt the sincerity of a “mea culpa,” more damage could be done than whatever required the apology in the first place!
To make sure you properly own up to your mistakes, keep these four steps in mind:
- Own up to your actions. You don’t need a long drawn out soliloquy. People are really only looking for two words: I’m sorry. The one word you never want to cross your lips: but. No excuse-making or blame-shifting.
- Acknowledge the repercussions. Obviously what you said or did (or didn’t say or do) impacted those around you. So if missing that meeting caused the budgeting kickoff to be delayed, say it. People want to know you can put ego aside to identify what it did to those around you.
- So how do you ask for forgiveness? Seems simple enough, but there are several traps you don’t want to fall into here:
- Don’t put people on the spot. Saying “Do you forgive me?” puts pressure on folks then and there to speak up, which is especially tough when you’re the boss.
- Don’t turn the tables. “I hope some day you’ll be able to forgive me” tells your staffers it’s on them to come around. You’re the one in the wrong; you’ll have to earn trust and/or forgiveness.
- Drop it. Don’t belabor the issue. You’ve apologized and shown people you’re interested in their forgiveness. Time to move on. If you do, then they’re more likely to, too.