Tutorial for “Apologize to an Employee or Employees”

Tips

Write this brief letter as soon as possible after the incident. The apology should be unilateral. Do not attempt to apologize unless you plan to take full responsibility. A sincere, well-worded apology coupled with action goes a long way toward patching up damaged relationships with employees.

Steps

1. Begin with a straightforward apology.

Sentences

  • I am truly sorry that the Christmas bonus checks were not ready for distribution at the Christmas party. It was disappointing for me not to be able to hand out your well-deserved bonuses this year as usual.
  • I apologize to everyone in the Research and Development Division for not being able to attend your division party last week.
  • I am sorry that I forgot to mention your very important contribution to the Doe project at the awards banquet.
  • John, this is a very difficult letter for me to write, so I will just tell you the bad news directly. The company has not approved the raise that I said was imminent. I am very sorry.
  • I am sorry I snapped at you during this morning's staff meeting.
  • Please accept my apologies for seeming somewhat paranoid these days. I assure you, it is no reflection on you.
  • I am very sorry to inform you that due to financial constraints, there will be no Christmas bonus in your December paycheck this year. For this I sincerely apologize.

Phrases

  • an apology is in order for
  • company cannot afford to give you the raise that
  • due to financial constraints there will be no Christmas bonus
  • forgot to mention your very important contribution to the
  • none of it is personal
  • not being able to attend your division party
  • oversight was not intentional
  • please accept my apology for
  • prefer to be candid with the bad news
  • sorry I snapped at you during

2. Acknowledge your reader's frustration, if appropriate.

Sentences

  • I know this must be frustrating to you. I appreciate your patience.
  • It was gracious of you to invite me, and I understand that you made special preparations for my coming. I was very much looking forward to being there, but emergency business prevented me.
  • I certainly hope I did not embarrass you or hurt your feelings. I know I am embarrassed by what I did.
  • I know this news must be very frustrating for you. Thank you for your patience. I am confident that with hard work and dedication we will soon rebound from this slump.

Phrases

  • am sure this caused you a great inconvenience
  • appreciate your patience
  • don't blame you for being
  • hope I did not embarrass you or hurt your feelings
  • it was very gracious of you to invite me
  • must be frustrating to you
  • must be extremely disappointed
  • sorry to cause you such
  • sorry to be the cause of
  • this news must be frustrating
  • understand that you made special preparations
  • you are thoroughly justified in

3. If necessary, mention any action you will take to compensate your employee(s). End on a positive note.

Sentences

  • I hope this did not cause great inconvenience to anyone. The checks should be ready to be picked up on January 5. Thank you for your understanding.
  • I really would like to visit your division. If it is convenient for you, I would enjoy coming to next year's party or to an earlier event.
  • As I nervously read the script for the presentation, I missed a few names, including yours. I regret that I did not publicly acknowledge your special skills and expertise, which we value so highly. I apologize for my mistake, but will recognize you and the others in a special section of the company newsletter. We appreciate the work you do at Doe Associates and hope to have you with us for many more years.
  • Unfortunately, our early projections did not anticipate the merger. Thank you for your hard work at our firm. I promise I will do my best to see that you receive your long-overdue raise.
  • Let me assure you that my reaction had more to do with insufficient caffeine intake this morning than it did with anything that you did. Thank you for your hard work.
  • I know this is small compensation for a canceled Christmas bonus, but I have managed to get a truckload of excellent roasting turkeys from Springfield Farm--one for every employee. At your convenience, please pick up your turkey from Jane Doe at the loading dock.

Phrases

  • appreciate the work you do at
  • appreciate your support
  • appreciate your professional attitude
  • checks should be ready to be picked up on
  • have managed to
  • please pick up your turkey from
  • promise I will do my best to see that
  • really would like to
  • thank you for your understanding
  • was very pleased with your
  • will recognize you in a special
  • will be more sensitive in the future

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