Should a Boss Apologize?

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Bad behaviour needs to be changed, and apologizing is a good place to start.

If we accept that apologizing is necessary in personal relationships and to uphold basic rules of civility, why wouldn’t we expect it in the workplace, especially from a boss? I commanded units in the Canadian Army as an officer and apologized on occasion for losing my temper or for having exercised poor judgment. We’re not talking every week, but it happened a few times in my 26-year career. I also saw it done by others. It can clear the air and set the conditions for a new start if done properly.

Apologizing may be a good way of communicating awareness of a problem and that one intends to do something about it. I’m not talking about “I’ve been unfaithful and sinned” type of apology in front of everyone. But if someone genuinely realizes the negative consequences of their actions and that they have hurt people, then they should make amends. This could involve taking individuals aside or starting the weekly management team meeting with an acknowledgment of his misbehaviour and his intention to change.

To me, apologizing is the obverse of foregiveness. It isn’t the end point, but I also think that apologizing can allow a clean break with the past. It can also lead to actual remorse, as perpetrators must face the people they’ve abused or hurt. That can contribute to meaningful change.

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes authorized with proper attribution.

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