How to Apologize in Business

We all make mistakes.  We are human.  We are not expected to be perfect.  If you are expecting perfection, your focus is misguided.

Knowing that it’s not a matter of if or when a mistake will happen, how you handle a mistake is a true testament to your character.  If you are a leader, and your team makes a mistake, they will look to you for how to respond.

Acknowledge.  You must first acknowledge the mistake happened.  AS SOON AS YOU ARE AWARE IT HAPPENED.  There is no partial credit here.  If you wait until someone calls you out on it, you do have to own it at that time, but the first question will be “when did this happen?”  Stay in front of it.

Apologize in your Words.  You may not be at fault for the mistake.  Fault does not equal responsibility.  However, you must express your most sincere apology and express empathy for those affected.  If you get defensive, you will lose all trust and respect.

Trust is the currency of leadership.  Guard it.  Own your mistakes.  Admit when you mess up and encourage your team to do the same.  It makes you human.  We need more humans in business.

Apologize in your Actions.  You must not only communicate the error, but you must communicate what steps you (you, your team, the organization) is making to ensure the error does not happen again as well as what you are doing to make it right.  Then you have to hold yourself and others accountable that those things are done.

Do the Right Thing.  I don’t have to tell you what that is.  You already know.  Trust your gut.

 

 

Failure is Feedback…

I saw a post on from the fabulous Sarah Hathorn on Twitter a while back:

 Jan 31

I thought to myself.  “Right.  It’s feedback.”  So I replied to her:

“Failure is feedback. It allows us to change our approach and improve the process.

Stop and take an honest inventory of your view on failure.  Do you view failure as an opportunity to improve, or do you view it as being “less than” or “not good enough” because Plan A didn’t work out?  What drives those feelings?  Where is your focus and mindset?

I was talking to a friend of mine about the idea to this post and he said “I fail every day.”  I love that.  He didn’t say “I quit every day.”  He said he failed – this implies he’s trying daily.  We don’t have all the answers.  We are not always going to get it right, but we are 100% more successful when we try than when we are paralyzed by fear of failure.

Did you know that there are over 534,000 videos that talk about how many times some of the most successful people failed before they got it right?  These are meant to be inspirational videos.  If they can do it, I can do it.  Right?  Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Henry Ford, all faced adversity and failure, but they stuck with it.  They kept going.

Below is one of my favorite quotes by J.K. Rowling:

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

― J.K. Rowling

In some cases these people faced monumental setbacks, but they didn’t let it define them.  They continued to try.  They rebounded until they succeeded, and then they continued to work hard and continue trying new things.

In order to dare to do great things, two important aspects must occur:  you must put yourself out there to try AND you must engage with others who encourage continuous learning and continuous improvement.  Far too often we engage in cultures where there is such a stigma around failure and so much effort is placed on perfection and the pursuit of it.  Spoiler alert:  no one and no organization is perfect.  We could all save a lot of time and heartache striving to something unattainable.

We see it every day in the news – especially lately with the #MeToo movement:  organizations learn somewhere along the way that a catastrophic lapse in judgment has occurred, and in many cases, lack the courage to admit it, learn from it, and make it right.  We all make mistakes.  We are all human.  Why do we try so hard to convince those around us otherwise?