Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hard to Say I'm Sorry

Ronald Alsop has an interesting report on the BBC on apologies by management and the effect that it has.
Honesty clearly is the cornerstone of trust, and that includes owning up to mistakes and apologising. Some respondents to the UK study said they would admire leaders if only they admitted their mistakes.
This is what is Alma calls "acknowledg[ing] your faults" (Alma 39:13). It is part of the repentance process. And interestingly, those who repent by acknowledging their faults receive and increase in trust, that is faith.
Beyond engendering trust, acknowledging an error and making amends can encourage greater openness throughout an organisation.
But this greater openness comes from not only acknowledging errors but making amends. It is what Alma called "repair[ing] that wrong which ye have done" (Alma 39:13) and is the other half of the repentance process.

And what happens when this is not done?
Failing to apologise can cause more damage than loss of trust.
What sort of damage can occur?
The refusal to ‘fess up to mistakes can poison the relationship between supervisors and their subordinates to such a degree that it may even contribute to depression. A study in Denmark found that it isn’t a burdensome workload, but rather feelings of injustice that lead to depression.

 “An important element of what we call relational justice is when supervisors treat employees with consideration and truthfulness,” said Matias Brodsgaard Grynderup, a researcher who works in the public health department at the University of Copenhagen. Consequently, he believes admitting mistakes and apologising would make the workplace seem more just.
This is in line with Moroni's observation that "despair cometh because of iniquity" (Moroni 10:22). Despair can come not just because of one's own iniquity, but also because of iniquity in general. And we should remember that the term iniquity originally came from a term for being unequal or unjust.

Failure to apologize not only destroys the trust of those directly affected:
“When a leader makes a mistake like lying or taking credit for another employee’s idea and doesn’t apologise immediately, it begins to chip away at the trust the employee feels towards them,” said Andrew Graham, CEO of Forum. “This is true even if the employee observes this behaviour in his or her boss and isn’t the direct victim of the incident.”  
On the other hand, apologies can help rebuild eroded trust.
Apologies can help restore a manager's credibility after a damaging error, and they also can inspire greater trust in management at a time when many workers are feeling disillusioned with employers.
So with all the positive benefits of apologizing, one would think it takes place frequently.

How common are apologies from bosses? It depends on whom you ask. Many employees believe managers don’t take responsibility for their screw-ups and don’t express regret. Only 19% of employees said their managers often or always apologise.
Even more managers think they apologize (87%) than employees think they don't (81%). This illustrates a disconnect between what managers think they are doing and what they are actually doing.
It’s also wise to apologise clearly and sincerely — but concisely.

Since when employees observe management making mistakes which are not apologized for immediately it erodes the employees' trust in the management, one wonders if it is possible for managers to reach a point where it is impossible to regain the trust of the employees.
Employers also shouldn’t expect apologies to work magic in every situation. They may not be very beneficial when office relationships were already badly strained before the mistake occurred.
Is it possible for efforts to be a little too little, a little too late?