I am not big on apologizing in business and I don’t much care for being apologized to either. It’s not that folks shouldn’t let you know they take responsibility for a mistake or doing something inappropriate. I just think that fixing it and moving on is a lot more productive and a lot less dramatic.
Personal apologies are slightly different in my book. Yes there are occasions where they are necessary, but even in personal endeavors they are often a poor response to dealing with a situation. It also seems like an easy out. I will say I am sorry and the situation magically corrects itself.
We are all human and are going to make mistakes. In business, they are even expected. Just recognize them quickly and fix them. My best learnings have been from mistakes. At Leviton, I failed twice in implementing a High Potential program. The first time I didn’t get buy in. The second time I started to low and wide in the organization. If not for these two failures, I may never had succeeded on try number three.
At Success Academy, there was this apology culture if you made a mistake. It wasn’t just required but expected too. When the apology for a mistake didn’t come it caused rumblings, emails, phone calls and even an occasional meeting to diagnose why. I always held to the concept of fix the mistake, learn from it and move on.
In retrospect, I probably would have been better off to just say sorry, even if I really wasn’t. But that’s not who I am for better and yes occasionally for worse.
I also never really needed an apology when someone screwed up a project I assigned them or a daily task. They happened all the time, most were insignificant. Occasionally it was something big. I always focused my staff on fixing it. When they would apologize I would often say “don’t apologize, fix it”. I think that as a rule this was more effective (at least for me). You can ask them. I bet most appreciated not having to apologize and I believe the response was more effective in the long run.