Updated: Dec 13, 2020
You were late to a meeting, again. You CC’d everyone in the company on a personal, borderline inappropriate, email. You forgot to turn in that oh-so-important order that could cause your company to lose their biggest client. Whatever happened, it was wrong. Now you need to write an apology letter for a mistake at work.
Why Write an Apology Letter?
Apologies are not uncommon. In fact, a simple “I’m sorry” is so simple that it’s easily forgotten. Formal, written apologies for mistakes at work show that you understand the significance of your error. You can find help by reading example apology letters, and then using the following guidelines to write your own.
How to Write an Apology Letter for a Mistake at Work
1. Act Fast As soon as you realize your mistake, start the process. The more quickly you address the situation, the sooner it will be behind you.
2. Start Formally Some businesses are more casual than others. If you call your boss by their first name, you can use that in the letter. Otherwise, you will need to use their title followed by their last name. Start every apology letter with the greeting “Dear.”
3. Apologize Clearly Do not leave out the words “I apologize” in some form. Stating your apology in the first paragraph shows a true sense of self-reproach. A common error in apology letters for mistakes at work is forgetting the actual apology.
4. Be Specific Give details about what happened. Don’t feel like your employer needn’t be reminded or that specifics will cause more harm than good. Precisely explaining your wrongdoing shows your superiors that you are at least aware.
5. Show Understanding Once the specifics of your personal errors are out of the way, you need to recount how your actions affected the company. Why is it that your mistake is wrong? What could be the consequences of your actions?
6. Accept Responsibility Apologizing is not an opportunity to lay blame on others. It is also not a time to find excuses for your errors. Accept personal responsibility for your mistake. If your mistake affects others in or outside of the company, you can offer to write letters of apology to any of those who are involved. It should be up to your superior to decide if customers receive apology letters from you or from the company on behalf of you.
7. Plan of Action Explain how your error will not be repeated. Give your superior a plan of action that includes ways to prevent future problems. This is how your letter should end.
Handling an apology in the right way goes a long way to making amends.