How to deal with an Excuse Maker
It really does not matter if you are a supervisor with an employee that makes excuses or an employee with a supervisor that makes excuses - keep detailed records. E-mails are often proof of notification. If you have an employee or supervisor that insists, “that is not what I said,” an e-mail will go along way in proving your case. This is especially important if there is a particular supervisor or co-worker that often changes their story.
What about an inability to follow instructions and they insist that you are to blame? For example, Sally is forever insisting that she was not given accurate instructions and that is why her reports are always wrong. If Sally can not follow oral instructions, provide written instructions. Before you give Sally the written instructions, however, make a copy for your records. The next time that Sally insists that she was not given proper instructions, whip out your copy. Remind Sally, however, that the job requires the ability to follow instructions both written and oral. Remember, documentation is the key.
But the system did it! This must be the most over worked excuse of all time. Why? Most employees believe that system errors can not proved or disproved. This excuse will require the supervisor to do a little bit of extra work. Begin by providing your staff a list of “controllable errors”. These are errors which at first glance may be caused by the system, but have checks and balances in place to catch the errors. An example, if a new hire’s first check is incorrect, it must be the system right? Wrong. Did you check the data entry of the original information? Remember the phrase - “garbage in, garbage out.” Hold employees accountable even for “system errors”.
Supervisor’s often fail because they allow their employees to get away with excuses. This inability to get a handle on the problem leads to issues with other employees that are abiding by the policies and procedures set forth by the company. Many times the excuses start relatively small - arriving late one or two days a week because of traffic or some other morning ritual. Pretty soon, the lateness will turn into an everyday occurrence because it was not addressed at the first infraction. From there the problem blossoms to other employees starting to take advantage of an issue that they feel is not being addressed.
The list of excuses are never-ending in some workers. They possess a total inability to accept responsibility for their own actions and mistakes. This can be a real morale buster in an organization. Holding employees responsible for their actions regardless of their excuses will hold them accountable whether they see it that way or not.
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