YOU messed up, and now you need to apologise.
Start by saying “Sorry”.
Be sincere about it.
Then… shut up. The more you squeal on, making excuses and pointing fingers, the quicker the sincerity factor evaporates. The more it will irritate rather than calm the aggrieved parties.
If you have something to explain, then, do so.
Keep it simple. State the facts in relation to the mistake(s) made.
If you want to explain something, get to the point. Don’t be vague.
Do not then start pointing fingers at other segments of your business. If you are the head, it’s on your shoulders and act responsibly. Don’t play the lame, blame game.
If you have higher powers to account to, don’t wait for a long time to orchestrate your responses with them to come up with a weak apology that only shows it took you that long to figure out how to pin the blame on someone else.
Note: This will not work if you are already in the habit of doing this, and have been trying to dodge the bullet, or the rain or the clock. But not your pay cheque.
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Do not dilute the apology by trying to show how you have performed better than expected, and how others explaining things are at fault for not seeing your point of view.
Do not pat your back about a minor internal victory when it is evident you have failed miserably in the grander scheme of things.
Avoid the “I told you so” tone when it comes to apologising. That is less of an apology and more of a stubborn insistence that you are correct.
Don’t blame the past practices and corporate culture when you have been in control for so many years. You were there to set things right — physical, systemic and human — and if you couldn’t do that, then why are you still there?