The need for an apology might suddenly emerge in organizations. At some point, every company makes a mistake that requires an apology—to an individual; a group of customers, employees, or business partners; or the public at large.
Maurice E. Schweitzer, Alison Wood Brooks, Adam D. Galinsky inquired into the “The Organizational Apology” on the Harvard Business Review September 2015 issue.
Should we apologize? We need to consider the “psychological contract” – the expectations customers, employees, business partners, or other stakeholders have about an organization’s responsibilities and what is right or fair.
When an apology is needed, setting up a strategy might help convey remorse and minimize the damage or defuse a tense situation.
As a general rule, the more central to the mission of the company the violation is and the more people it affects, the more important it is that the apology be pitch-perfect.
Suggestions for a tailor-made “sorry”.
- Who. The more serious and the more core the violation, the more necessary it becomes that a senior leader make the apology.
- What. Choose words to express candor, remorse, and a commitment to change. Leave no room for equivocation or misinterpretation.
- Where. Strive to control the coverage of an apology to determine how loud—and widely heard—the message will be.
- When. The quicker, the better.
- How. The way an apology is delivered can matter just as much as the content of the apology.
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