Thanks and Forgiving, Part 2

part 2: A letter of apology

To everyone I have ever fired, I am sorry. You know who you are and there have been a lot of you. After over 25 years in the Human Resources profession working for all manners of companies, I had the unfortunate task of being there with you when you lost your job.

In most cases, I was the last person you spoke to before you walked out the door to your car, train or bus for that long ride home to your family. I was the person you thought of whenever you had to tell your story to a recruiter or interviewer when they asked you “what happened at the last place you worked.”

While I hope that I was as kind and respectful to you as much as one can be in that situation I feel I owe you an apology. I never said I was sorry.

When I first started out in HR I was told “never say you are sorry.” I was taught that saying “I’m sorry” made the Company look bad. Like we were wrong. Like it was the Company’s fault. It put the Company at risk.

I’ve realized that this belief no longer works for me. So here it goes:

  • Even if what you did constituted grounds for termination, I’m sorry that it happened to you because it also happened to your family.
  • I’m sorry the company promoted you into a position you weren’t ready for and then didn’t provide the tools to help you be successful.
  • I’m sorry that no one told you what the expectations of the role were or that they had changed and we neglected to tell you.
  • I’m sorry that you had to work for a boss who couldn’t appreciate your strengths and capabilities and could only see your gaps.
  • I’m sorry that the company decided to go in a “different direction” but that we couldn’t tell you what that direction was.
  • I’m sorry that you were downsized, right-sized, made redundant or otherwise made to feel that you were non-essential.
  • I’m sorry that you weren’t a “good fit” with the Company – whatever that means.
  • I’m sorry that we kept changing priorities on you and then held you accountable for not achieving results.

Taking a cue from the classic 12-step programs I offer this letter to you as a way of making amends for this serious lack of courtesy that I should have demonstrated during one of the most difficult times in your life. I hope that you will accept this apology, late though it might be.

join the conversation

What belief are you holding on to that no longer works for you?
What are you willing to do to let it go?