How to Admit Mistakes. Are You Really Sorry?

By Sammi Caramela, B2B Staff Writer

No one perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. If you admit to your faults and express your remorse, you might expect to be forgiven. However, managers are rarely believed to be sorry.

The research found that when powerful figures apologize, it comes across as disingenuous. According to leadership coach Jack Skeen, co-author of “The Circle Blueprint” (Wiley, 2017), employees think bosses only apologize to avoid conflict. This belief can be detrimental to your team. It’s crucial for workers to be on the same page as managers, and even the smallest disconnect can cause tension and lead to poor results. Want to ensure your employees trust your sincerity? Here are three tips to persuade your team that you really are sorry.

1. Develop strong company culture.

If you show your workers that you’re interested in more than just their work and how it benefits the company, they’ll begin to trust you.

Talk to your team about topics other than work, and find ways to reverse the roles. So you can cater to them for a change. This can be as simple as brewing coffee for your team or bringing bagels to work.

“If we can see our staff members as human beings and, most importantly, make them realize that we view them as worthy, unique and inherently valuable individuals, they won’t struggle to believe we are sincere when we apologize,” Skeen said.

Anyone can be a boss, but not everyone can be a leader. Be considerate of your entire team, and they won’t doubt your emotions for a second.

2. Only apologize if you mean it.

You can say sorry all you want, but if you don’t but if you do not really feel bad about something, it will show. “Crocodile tears don’t work,” said Skeen.

The same goes for repeated mistakes. A spoken apology only goes so far; if no change is made, your team will think you simply don’t care.

3. Take full ownership of your mistake.

When you screw up, don’t point fingers at anyone but yourself. You want to set a good example for your workers by showing them that you hold yourself accountable.

“Express awareness of the implications of your mistake on others,” said Skeen. “If what you did created more work or other problems for people on your team, list those implications. It helps when people see that you know what it feels like to walk in their shoes.”

Most importantly, listen to your workers, he added. If they have any lingering concerns, treat them with respect.

“It means a lot to your people when they see you rolling up your sleeves and getting in the trenches with them,” said Skeen.