How To Write an Apology Letter To Your Boss (With Example)
Updated September 24, 2023
An illustration of a person looking thoughtful as they look at their laptop screen.
Apologizing can be a valuable skill to have when resolving an error or conflict in the workplace. You may choose to write an apology letter to your supervisor to express your feelings sincerely and explain how you plan to improve your behavior.
Learning how to write an apology letter can be useful should you feel inclined to apologize to your manager or supervisor. In this article, we explain why you may write an apology letter to your boss, review steps and tips for how to write one and provide an example to guide you as you write.
Why write an apology letter to your boss?
You can write an apology letter to your supervisor to take responsibility for an error and show you understand the repercussions of your actions. It can be an important tool in showing your manager or supervisor that you take the situation seriously, you're willing to put in the effort to reflect and that you're interested in moving forward positively. When writing an apology letter to your manager, you can emphasize your sincerity and genuine interest in rectifying a situation.
How to apologize to your supervisor
Consider following these steps when writing an apology letter to your supervisor or manager:
1. Open with your apology
Begin your letter with a clear and honest apology so the purpose of your letter is straightforward and obvious to the reader. Take ownership of your actions and the events that occurred as a result. In your apology, accept responsibility for certain events that transpired and consider highlighting what you've learned or how the situation has encouraged you to grow.
An apology letter can indicate your commitment to professionalism and appropriate conduct in the workplace. With this, consider focusing on being authentic in your writing so your manager can understand how serious you are.
2. Use respectful and sincere language
The tone and level of formality of your apology letter may depend on your relationship with your supervisor, but consider remaining respectful and sincere regardless of how formal you write. A sincere approach can help your supervisor believe what you're saying and regain their trust in you as an employee.
Being respectful can add to the seriousness of the letter and demonstrate that you understand the severity and impact of the situation. Using the appropriate language can help your manager or supervisor forgive you for your actions and allow you both to continue your work together.
3. Explain how you are addressing the situation
Once you've apologized, you can explain how you're addressing—or plan on addressing—the situation. If the incident involves others, consider mentioning how you plan to move forward with your coworkers and what you are doing to repair or improve the circumstances. Illustrate to your manager that you're willing to take action to make the situation better. You can use this as an opportunity to show them you have a plan or have already addressed what happened.
4. Remain professional and understanding
After you've acknowledged how you're addressing the situation, try to show your supervisor that you take the outcome seriously and understand how to improve. Consider offering insight into your thought process and highlighting your understanding of the impact this event had on yourself as well as others. This can show your supervisor that you are self-aware and care about how your actions affect them and your coworkers.
5. Express a willingness to improve
In order to show that you've learned from your behavior, consider expressing your willingness to learn, improve and demonstrate a more professional workplace behavior. Apologies can be an opportunity to improve and grow, so highlight that while you are sorry about what happened, you plan on using this as a chance to better yourself personally and professionally. Being willing to change can show the employer that you're interested in long-term improvement and committed to the success of the company.
6. Acknowledge your manager's feelings are valid
When apologizing, it may be beneficial to acknowledge how you affected the person you're writing to and validate their feelings. Including a recognition of their feelings in your apology can show that you've taken them into consideration and that how they feel is important to you. Recognizing how you may have made your supervisor feel can help them feel supported and understand that you are genuinely sorry for your actions.
7. Proofread the letter and send it to your supervisor
After creating a draft of your apology letter, consider proofreading it for any grammar and spelling errors. Submitting an error-free letter can help convey how sorry you feel and how committed you are to improving. Consider reading it aloud to yourself or sending it to a friend to get their feedback on your tone, authenticity and writing style. Once you feel confident about the quality of your writing, send the letter to your supervisor or manager via email or give it to them in person.
Related: Business Letter Format and Example
8. Honor what you said
To solidify your apology, it's standard practice to keep your promises and change your actions or behaviors. This may help you regain your supervisor's trust, as they can see that your apology was sincere and that you improved in the areas you said you would. In addition, honoring your original apology can show your supervisor that you took the time to change and develop yourself professionally.
Tips for apologizing to your manager
There are various elements and stylistic choices to include in an apology letter to your manager or supervisor. Consider these tips as you write:
Ask for help: If you need support correcting an error, consider asking your boss or supervisor for help. This can show them you're willing to accept responsibility and you're committed to developing a solution, even if you need assistance doing so.
Reflect on the situation: Sounding genuine can make a positive impression on your supervisor, so consider taking time to reflect on your actions so you know exactly what to address and include in your letter. Reflecting on the situation can also help you develop a plan of action and continue to improve your behavior.
Address your supervisor by name: In order to build their trust again, it can help if your apology is personal and sincere. Addressing your supervisor by their name is one way to demonstrate that you're apologizing to them personally and you take your professional relationship with them seriously.
Provide a time for when a task will be finished: If you're writing an apology letter because you forgot to complete a task or could not meet a project deadline, consider including a new deadline in your apology. This shows that you're sorry for your actions and that you're committed to finishing what you started as quickly as possible.
Focus on why you're sorry: If you offended a coworker or your supervisor, it can be beneficial to keep your apology letter focused on why you're sorry rather than justifying your actions and discussing what caused you to act in such a way. This illustrates that instead of trying to defend your actions, you're more interested in repairing the situation and seeking forgiveness.
Here is a sample apology letter to guide you as you write one to your supervisor or manager:
Subject: Letter of Apology
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am reaching out to apologize for my lack of presence in recent team meetings and the impact that this has had on our project. Considering my recent actions, I have taken time to reflect and think about how my apathy has affected the outcome of the project and the part I played in nearly missing our production deadline. I have reached out to all other members of the team and apologized to them personally for the extra work they put into the project because of my behavior.
I am very sorry for neglecting my responsibilities and am committed to changing my actions. I am aware that my recent behavior does not meet company expectations and I am fully prepared to accept any professional consequences of my actions. Thank you for taking the time to read my apology. Please know that I am committed to improving my actions and contributing to future projects in accordance with your standards.
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