I have received an apology email from my CEO for springing last minute, poorly managed company duties one late Friday afternoon which resulted me to work back and deal with an urgent matter that resulted in making an international call to my CMO in LA.

In short, my CEO's urgency and lack of organisation became my problem on a late Friday afternoon.

Over the weekend I have received the following email from my boss:

"Hi Andrew, thanks for working with Fred last night. It was not intended to go into the night so apologies for that. It was a last minute opportunity we had to take up. Have a good weekend!"

I would like to respectfully accept the apology professionally however I would like to firmly with my reply that this style of practice is not to repeat itself.

How could I reply to my CEO to ensure my message is professionally and respectfully pro-traded in good taste?

  • 38
    So you want to give your CEO a firm reply don't do this again? Also work on your resume.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 9:51
  • 22
    I'm just curious why the CEO seems to think it was a "last minute opportunity" and you seem to think it was a lack of planning or organization. Is it possible that something unexpected happened that changed the priority or course of the work and that the CEO is grateful that he has a team that can adapt and be flexible enough to jump on an opportunity that a less agile team would miss?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 20:20
  • 13
    @ColleenV I think your comment is significant. There is a definite disconnect between the OP who thinks his CEO did something wrong due to a "lack of organization" and the CEO who thinks that the OP supported an important business opportunity which could not be planned for. If the OP tries to make sure this does not happen again, this disconnect could make things go very poorly indeed. Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 23:27
  • 4
    Even if this is a trend, and even if you don't like it ... tough. Welcome to the business world. It is not for you to tell the CEO how to conduct the business or what the necessary measures are to get the job done. If you don't like how it's done, you're better off typing up your resume and looking for work somewhere else. There are millions of people who have had to work late hours, odd hours, weekends, double shifts, ad infinitum. Whether it's poor planning, unique opportunity, or just plain old unforeseen circumstances, this is a ubiquitous fact of the working world. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:28
  • 14
    Be glad you got an apology and an attaboy from the CEO. That only happens in the best sort of environments. Usually they just expect you to do your job and not complain. Replying to his email with anything other than "glad to do it boss" would be what we officially call a CLM (career limiting move). If you truly require that this experience not repeat itself you should get your resume in order and make your move before things turn sour. Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 22:33

10 Answers 10


You can just send him a "It's okay, mate. I've taken care of that!" kind of reassurance.

It can go something like this:

< His Name >,

I really appreciate you writing to me about the incident.

It was a nice learning opportunity for us, and we had taken care of it. So, no regrets on that!

And, a great weekend to you too.



If I were you, I wouldn't really try to talk to him about such incidents unless and until they are a regular occurrence.

  • 3
    Sometimes the best ways to handle items are to let them become forgotten. If you start to see a pattern of this behavior, wait till the third time to make a note to management it's becoming a pattern, and if it's going to occur in the future, the company should apply some structure and process to handling this kind of opportunity.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 14:00

Although phrased as one, this isn't really primarily an apology. It's an acknowledgement and praise for your efforts. One which has given the bosses a good impression of you and deserved mention (and won't be forgotten).

You take it in good spirit and reply positively. Any issues you have with the professionalism and misgivings over it happening again you take up with your immediate superior, not the CEO.

It IS professional to help uncomplainingly in emergency situations, whatever the cause. Finding ways to mitigate against them happening is also professional. Complaining nonconstructively about having to help out in emergencies isn't.

So by all means approach your superiors with a constructive solution to help things get sorted before it becomes an emergency. But not to outright say they're unimportant to you.

  • 100% this. The word “apologies” may appear but that email isn’t the apology the OP seems to think it is.
    – Kaz
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 19:46

I would just accept his apology as simply as possible. I am assuming this is a one off. He has noted that it should not have happened by sending you this email.

If it does become a frequent thing then I would have a chat with him.

  • 15
    Unless it becomes a frequent occurrence, don't make a fuss. Screw ups happen, the mistake has been acknowledged. Making a big fuss out of a one off incident is unprofessional. Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 8:09
  • 11
    Your superior's urgency is your problem @Andrew, whether you chose to be embrace or ignore it.
    – Ben
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 9:03
  • 5
    @AndrewC.Duarte nip poor organisational practices on the head it's incredibly easy to be a back-seat driver.
    – rath
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 14:20
  • 4
    @AndrewC.Duarte - Also factor in when you will make a mistake. Would you like to be treated in a more favourable light?
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 14:22
  • 5
    "I need to nip poor organisational practices on the head" - and when you start your own company, or even just run your own department, you'll get to (try and) do just that!
    – AakashM
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 8:56

The existing answers seem to focus on avoiding a negative response. I would seize the opportunity to use this for a positive response instead.

For example:

Hi boss, don't worry about it. Last Friday gave me some ideas how we can be better 
prepared the next time an opportunity comes up. Shall I drop by this afternoon to
explain them?

You can probably be more concrete, as you know the ills of the company. Use this as an opportunity to initiate changes.


Only one answer has attempted to answer the question, so I'll give it a shot. I think it's entirely possible to respond politely and firmly, even though I agree with others that things happen in business and sometimes you need to pull with the team. I have never, ever, worked in a place where everything was planned so well that no one ever had to work overtime.

That said, this might accomplish your goal:

Hi, Jack;

Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad I could help this time, since I didn't have previous obligations that couldn't be set aside. Did the opportunity pan out? I hope so--everyone worked very hard.



  • 1
    IMO "since I didn't have previous obligations that couldn't be set aside" is kind of in grey territory if said to your boss. If it were due to the boss and if it were really urgent, personally I'd have to drop whatever I was doing and do that first.
    – cst1992
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 12:49

I had a similar situation where I had to work Saturday 6pm to 10pm recently. Which is rare for me. However, I knew that our IT guy was working as well, plus four employees of a customer, and a huge contract was in danger if the problem couldn’t be fixed. (Customer was actually happy with “we found what the problem is, we know how to fix it”, which we achieved at 10pm. In money terms, this was my salary and IT guy’s salary and three or four more salaries paid for the next few years that was at stake if we had messed up.

That kind of situation happens. You made a very good impression. Your CEO has you in his books as “Andrew is a guy that can be relied on if things go wrong”. That is so valuable for your position And your career in the company. The CEO also made it clear that this kind of thing is not supposed to happen. And you plan to send an email that will undo all the positive effect. Which is the worst thing you could possibly do.

If there is another last minute opportunity, then the CEO will call you, and you will help out or you will be history. He will not miss out on a major amount of money to avoid hurting your feelings. If he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, he will replace you with someone who doesn’t feel hurt.

Just to make this clear: This was an exceptional situation. This isn’t regular overtime. A CEO asking for regular unpaid overtime and/or not acknowledging what you did is an entirely different matter.


One data point is not a trend.

Just say thank you in the email and acknowledge that these things happen (I realize that's the same as other answers.).

Then, I would try to find some time to really find-out what happened. You don't have to interrogate the CEO. Just try to find what happened. The reason you should be asking is to see if there is anyway you can help in the future. You discover that the CEO had some advanced notice, but wasn't really sure at the time.

Salespeople get blamed a lot for communicating client requests in the format of "deal-killing-critical-demands" to get other staff members to work on their deal. Hopefully, your extra-effort lead to new profits and you'll somehow get credit and compensation. If you don't, you have the misfortune of working for people who don't know how to motive people and may not learn this lesson before it is too late and people like you have already left the company.


As others pointed out, this is neither an apology, nor an opportunity for you to set your boundaries, as there is a real risk of offending the wrong people (rightly or wrongly), and jeopardizing your job security at this employer.

Instead, reply to your CEO's message in a friendly way, and say something along the lines of you appreciating they reached out to you, and you being glad things worked out well.

Then save this interaction in your personal archives, with other proof of your reliability and performance to be used in your favor during your next performance review.


If those hours are not acceptable, then take it up with your manager, not the CEO. How hard you can/should push depends on the culture where you are. Here in Norway I can imagine it could be pretty hard*. Handling this kind of thing is what middle managers are for.

One thing that stand out to me, because I am prone feel like this as well. You feel like they owe you, you spent way more of your day than it paid. "I helped, and all I got was this t-shirt email". That is not true, you got a coin of political capital. Which is something for the performance review, next time you or your team need something from upper management or whatever. Never said explicitly of course, that is often rude.

I am not good at office politics, however, so I can't help you use that coin, or to find out whether or not your CEO will even honor it.

*As I type this I can think of former coworkers with life responsibilities that I would not call for this kind of scenario, unless things were seriously on fire. And even then I'd hesitate.


How about:

Thank you for your kind words. I was able to learn new things from the event and I'm glad I was part of it.

  • It was a really learning event and I'm glad I was part of it.
    – Maxwell
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 7:25
  • 4
    When you send an e-mail to the CEO of your company, you must make sure the grammar is correct.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 9:04

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