How To Apologize To Employees

Curvy Road SignPart of life is apologizing. We make mistakes. They often affect others. This is true for our personal relationships. It’s true with strangers. And it’s also true in the workplace.

As a leader at a company, it is your job to apologize when you do something wrong. Or when your actions affect others negatively. It’s not enjoyable. It’s often not easy. And maybe it really shouldn’t be easy.

Here are some thoughts on how to apologize to employees so things can keep moving forward.

1. Straightforward

Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t tell a long story. Be straightforward in your apology. Tell the person that you are sorry and what you are sorry for. Just tell them in a single sentence. Let them know that you understand the situation and how what you did affected them. That’s kind of the key to it all with employees or with anyone. They want to know that you understand. Otherwise they won’t know if you’ll continue doing it.

2. Express Remorse To THEM

I’m sorry you feel this way, is not an apology. You may not agree with what is happening. You may not think you did anything wrong. But as a leader it’s important to understand how your team is feeling. And you have to understand your role in the situation.

Also, apologizing is not about you. It’s about making you feel better. It’s about showing that you have remorse for how the other person is feeling. It’s about them. It’s not about you. An apology can’t solve all problems, but it can solve some. And it’s important.

3. Ask & Listen

Employees often want to be heard. They want to be understood. An apology is a great thing. But often the situation will require a conversation. And by conversation I mean that it involves you asking questions and then listening to the answers.

Ask your team what they are feeling. What they’re struggling with. Listen to their answers. Later, figure out if there are solutions that can help with poor situations in the workplace.

4. Audit Future Behavior

You likely have good intentions for improving as a person. I think most of us do. But we’re human. We make mistakes. We often make the same mistakes in the future. It’s going to happen.

A key is to set reminders on a calendar of some sort to audit our behavior. Think back to what we wanted to do. Then assess how things have gone the past few months. This reflection is often good for creating new routines that will lead to change in our lives.


Apologizing isn’t an easy thing. But we all have to do it occasionally. Not for ourselves. For the others that are affected by our occasional mistakes. It’s about understanding their point of view. It’s about expressing remorse for our role in how they feel. And in a workplace, it’s about creating an environment that people want to come back to each day and perform well.

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