How to deal with employee excuses

By Tracy Thomas
Rev Marketing 2 U, Inc.

Performance management is one of the trickiest jobs a manager has. Many executives and team leaders are reluctant to tackle performance issues and to question A-Z excuses. Employee excuses can be funny, irritating, tiring or outrageous even if there is a legitimate reason. Accepting excuses is one of the worst things a manager can do. This breeds a cultural of irresponsibility and an environment where workers are always upping the excuse ante. Managers and business owners must lead by example.

In any business, there will be workers who are tireless complainers and make excuses about everything. Arriving late to work is a common scenario that gets the excuses flying. Although it’s easy to ignore excuses, that’s not the best solution. If employees aren’t reprimanded, everyone would arrive late.

Excuses also pop up when on-the-job performance declines. Time, endurance and knowledge are legitimate reasons why employees might not be able to perform their duties. When the excuses start pouring out, managers can do several things. The first thing is to tell employees not to make excuses and to start finding solutions. The second thing a manager can do is to ask employees how they will overcome the issue the next time. Do they need to leave home earlier, do they need an afternoon break, does a co-worker help them deal with a certain task? These are all acceptable solutions. When workers start making excuses again, you can ask them why the first solution failed. Always remember, quite often excuses are a defensive mechanism they have created in their own head as a way to manage a level of stress for something they haven’t done or did incorrectly.

Accepting excuses hurts your reputation, and it hurts productivity. Managing performance is not the best part of a manager’s job, but it’s an important a responsibility that must be confronted. Failing to act and failing to have a discipline system for employees makes things worse. There’s no good reason for not implementing a system to manage excuse-making employees.

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