Handling Complaints from Your Boss via Email


Your boss could have a complaint about your work and choose to send his grievances via email. It is ideal to respond back also through the use of email. First, it shows that you have received and acknowledge the complaint and responding promptly, which is a sign of respect.

Perhaps one of the keys to successfully handling of misunderstanding and complaints from your boss is to first have regard for him. It becomes difficult to handle certain situations effectively if you have less regard for your boss.

Usually, complaints from your boss will be work-related and nothing personal. This is why your attitude and response matter a lot. When it has to do with issues you feel you are not at fault, your manner of approach goes a long way in tackling the situation.

The email sent from your boss could be colored with some threats. This should not get you alarmed. Your focus is to communicate clearly, acknowledge your fault(s) where necessary and request to speak more one-on-one with your boss through the email you are sending.

Here are some rules to follow when you write an email in response to your boss’ complaint(s)

  • Make your points brief. There is no need to write a thesis in your response. Brevity will help you focus and drive in your message.
  • If threatened with a suspension, a sack letter, decrease in salary or the likes, do not refer to the threat in your response nor mention it. Do not make it the basis of your response.
  • The most important thing is to request to speak personally with your boss. Let this fact reflect clearly in your response email.
  • Acknowledge how your boss feels about the situation, even when you do not agree with his position.
  • Do not attempt to redirect the anger of your boss nor pass the blame. Take responsibility for what you need to and for what is not your fault, it is better to explain better in person instead of through email.
  • Avoid the use of negative adjectives. Unattractive can be substituted for not looking okay. Horrific can replace the word bad, and overlooked for negligence.
  • Proffer solutions, but do not go into lengthy details through this email.

Sample Email 1: Handling Complaints from Your Boss via Email

Dear Sir,

…I regret that the program organized by the Marketing Department turned out unexpectedly. It was not our intention to put the company into such embarrassment which we had to face over the weekend. We will do everything possible to redeem the image of our prestigious organization sir.

I will like to request an appointment with you in order to sort out certain issues relevant to this matter. I quite appreciate your bringing this error to my notice...
Kind regards, 
Your name

Sample Email 2: Handling Complaints from Your Boss via Email

Dear Sir, 

…I quite understand your grievance over the manner the new delivery was handled. This is entirely my fault. I take responsibilities for all that went wrong. I will ensure that a similar situation will never repeat itself again…

Kind regards, 
Your name

Sample Email 3: Handling Complaints from Your Boss via Email

It is possible that your boss’ complain is unfounded. You do not have to bear a false accusation regarding you without setting it straight. In this situation, you may have to wait to see him in order to explain the circumstances surrounding his complaint(s).  However, your email may focus on apologizing for causing him so much worry. Then, request an audience with him.

Dear Sir, 

…I apologize for causing you so much worry regarding the prompt installation of the machines. This situation seemed beyond my control as I had to wait for the maintenance department to finish up before proceeding. 

I value my work greatly and will not do anything that will jeopardize it nor the smooth running of the company.

I will appreciate an opportunity to meet with you so we can discuss further this matter. 

Thank you for believing in me…

A lengthy email in response to your boss to explain everything may give an impression that you are making an attempt to defend yourself. This may lead to further complaints and accusations.

Certain approaches are bound to further aggravate the matter at hand. But the fear of losing your job is one factor that may lead to this. The fear may propel you to counter an accusation, or pass the blame onto others.

While there is a possibility that your boss had overlooked some matters in the company, and by putting some measures in place, may have prevented the situation he is complaining about. This is not the time to throw this fact at his face or gently remind him. His role in the situation he is complaining about may or may not be obvious to him, this is no time to point that to him.

Example Email to Reply to Escalation Email from HR

Subject: Re: Escalation Matter

Dear [HR's Name],

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I apologize for any inconvenience caused and understand the importance of addressing the situation promptly. I'm committed to resolving this issue and will work closely with the relevant parties to ensure a swift resolution. 

Please rest assured that I take this seriously and am dedicated to maintaining a positive work environment. I appreciate your vigilance in upholding our company's values. Feel free to reach out if you require any further updates or information.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Sample Email 5: Handling Complaints from Your Boss via Email

EmailDear Sir,

…I agree that the way the store is being managed at present is not in accordance with the company’s policy. Some of the challenges we faced had been as a result of certain factors I overlooked. I deeply regret this and I apologize for it.

I had been battling some personal issues that had left me distracted for some time now. I will like to state that I will ensure this situation does not repeat itself again. This job means so much to me and carrying out my role to see to the smooth running of the supermarket is paramount to me.

In a situation whereby your personal challenges led to negligence at work, it is crucial to state it. However, leaving out the request to meet with your boss should be at your discretion. This will depend on your relationship with him and his personality.  It is better to let him be the one to request to see you. Asking for an appointment to discuss further the issue with him since your personal challenges are involved may seem too forward. You do not want to give an impression you want to burden him with your problems.

Check Out More Email Templates and Samples for Handling Complaints from Your Boss

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