Writing an apology letter is not always easy. You need to find a way to own up to your mistake while keeping your expertise intact. It is not uncommon for people to make mistakes, so it is a good idea for you to get used to writing this type of professional letter. Whether you are feeling embarrassed about the mistake you made or feel you should not have to apologize, it can be hard to find the right words. Saying the wrong thing could lead your boss to see the apology as insincere, which can negatively impact your career. If you find yourself needing to apologize for something at work, it may be best to review some explanation letter for a mistake at work templates to get a better idea of the verbiage you should use. Read over the example and writing tips to help you craft your own effective letter.
Explanation Letter for a Mistake at Work Template
Below is a letter written by Malachi Jones, a worker at a print shop, to his boss Felicia Day. Malachi accidentally printed a document that someone tampered with. The customer, Mrs. Lende, was deeply offended by the added phrase and chose to take her business elsewhere. Malachi doesn’t think the mistake was completely his fault, but he does a great job of owning up to what went wrong throughout his letter.
Yesterday I was working on printing Mrs. Lende’s newsletter. We had already gone over the finished document together, so I felt confident in quickly printing the project. I know we have to print a single sample and review it one last time to make sure everything is in order. However, I half-heartedly did this step. I did it so poorly, in fact, that I didn’t notice the addition of a very offensive phrase in the tagline of the newsletter. When Mrs. Lende arrived to pick up her prints, she noticed the change right away. She refused to pay for the product and said she would not be coming back to our store anymore.
While I don’t know who made the change to the document, I do know that I should have noticed the mistake during my final review. I am sorry that we lost the regular business of Mrs. Lende because of my carelessness. I am willing to aid you in any way to win back her business. In fact, I will pay to print her next two newsletters from my own paycheck.
I hope you can forgive me for the damage I have done. From now on, I will strive to thoroughly review all assignments to ensure this does not happen again.
How To Write an Explanation Letter for a Mistake at Work
An explanation letter for a mistake at work should not only inform an employer about what went wrong, but it should also showcase your apology. Be careful as you craft this type of apology letter. Avoid putting the blame elsewhere or trying to explain away your responsibility.
First, explain to your boss what went wrong. Try to be as concise as possible yet give a clear picture of the situation. Next, focus on your role in the mistake. Even if you’re embarrassed or feel someone else should share the blame, it’s important you let your boss know you understand you should have done something different to avoid the situation. The explanation letter for a mistake at work template explicitly underlines his role in the printing mishap, i.e., he should have given a more thorough review of the newsletter before giving it to the customer.
Next, make sure you voice your regrets. Taking responsibility is one thing, but you need to make sure your employer understands you feel bad about the mistake you made and will do anything in your power to ensure it does not happen again. After that, you should offer some way to repair the situation. In the sample, Malachi tells his boss he will pay for the customer’s next two printing projects in the hopes of bringing her business back to the shop.
Finally, you can end on a strong note and ask your boss directly for forgiveness. Outline the potential ramifications associated with your mistake. By letting your audience know you expect some sort of consequence for what went wrong, you make it clear how deeply the incident affected you.
What To Avoid in Your Explanation Letter for a Mistake at Work
The biggest mistake you can make in this letter is sidestepping your responsibility. You might choose to apologize for someone else’s feelings rather than making it clear you did something wrong. For example, Malachi did not say, “I’m sorry Mrs. Lende felt offended by the mistake.” Instead, he owned his responsibility by attributing the lost business to his carelessness. Downplaying your role in what went wrong can make it seem like you don’t really care about the consequences of the mistake. It might even lead your boss to view your apology as insincere, which could put your job in peril.
Another way you might sidestep your responsibility is by blaming a coworker. However, this sentiment has no room in your letter. You should never try to downplay your role in the mistake by saying it was someone else’s fault.
You should also try to avoid focusing too much on the forgiveness you seek. While it’s okay to mention you hope your employer will be able to forgive you, this is actually one of the least effective parts of an apology. Instead of focusing on the forgiveness you want, point out how you plan to help right the situation yourself.
How To Follow Up After Sending Your Explanation Letter for a Mistake at Work
Once you have given your apology letter to your employer, a face-to-face discussion may be in order. Allow your boss to ask questions about the situation. You should also be sure to further discuss your ideas for correcting the mistake. For example, if you were in a similar situation as Malachi, you might ask your boss if the customer agreed to come back for two free months of newsletter prints. Finally, make sure to discuss the potential consequences you might face because of your mistake. This follow-up meeting will put both you and your boss on the same page.
Another benefit of an in-person follow-up is you can clearly show your employer how you sincerely feel. Sometimes it’s hard to convey emotion in a letter. If your employer sees you are truly sad about the mistake, he or she may be better able to forgive you.
Top 5 Explanation Letter for a Mistake at Work Writing Takeaways
1. Take responsibility for your actions
Be clear about what you did or didn’t do that caused the mistake. No matter what you did, admitting to it can show your employer how professional you are. Yes, mistakes may seem unprofessional, but it takes a certain level of maturity to admit when you did something wrong.
2. Avoid focusing on anyone else’s role in the mistake
Do you think one of your colleagues should share in the blame? Or perhaps you think the customer was too sensitive? Putting these sentiments in your letter will make it seem like you are trying to explain away the mistake. Don’t focus on anyone else’s role. Instead, simply look at what you did.
3. Provide a little backstory
Jumping right into the apology may make it hard for your boss to really understand what happened. Instead, you need to explain how the mistake came about. It might be tempting to use this backstory as an excuse for your actions, but you shouldn’t do this.
4. Outline a plan
You can’t fix every mistake. It’s important to realize that. However, if the incident you caused has a fix, you should mention your willingness to help repair it. You might offer to pay for broken equipment or discuss potential ramifications for your actions.
5. Clearly apologize
Pointing out your responsibility in an error is not an apology. Make sure at some point in your letter to actually use an apologetic phrase, such as “I’m sorry.”