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Is excuse-making a problem in your office?

Excuses are really just defense mechanisms because employees fear blame, embarrassment, reprimands, and firings. As a manager, it is your job to turn mistake-making into a learning experience for your employees.

Here are some suggestions to help you reduce the amount of excuse-making that goes on under your command:

  • Make sure your employees know your expectations. Clarify tasks and assignments that will be each employee’s responsibility. Explain how what the employee is doing fits into the bigger picture. This is often an oversight in many businesses and detaches the worker from feeling like he or she is performing meaningful work.
  • Help the employee anticipate possible problems and how he or she will handle them.
  • Make sure the employee knows where to go for help.
  • After the task has been completed, discuss it. Was it a success or a failure? Did the employee meet expectations?
  • Discuss with the employee what he or she learned from the work.
  • Discuss with the employee what he or she could have done differently or more effectively during the course of the work.
  • Praise the employee when applicable.

— Adapted with permission from Nations’ Business and First Draft