John Y’s Musings from the Middle: When an Apology isn’t an Apology

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Since I was recently part of a book on dealing effectively with crisis, this piece caught my attention.

AOL CEO brashly and brazenly fired an employee on a conference call last week. An audio of the firing was released to the internet embarrassing the CEO. He today apologized to everyone on the call (1000 employees) via email.

That is a start. But struck me as more of a CYA response than a genuine and heartfelt apology.

He may have had good reason for firing this individual. I don’t know. But if he truly wanted to apologize he should do so on the same (or more personal) medium where the behavior occurred. In this case, a conference call.

jyb_musingsAn email is just slightly more personal than a text message.

Or classified ad making a declaration.

If Mr. Armstrong truly wanted to make a real apology that his employees could trust and use to reconsider their thoughts about last weeks’ inflammatory firing incident he could have dug a little deeper, been a little less public, and a little more personal than a blast email with a stock mea culpa.

Just my two cents.


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