Best managerial approach to workplace excuses

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By Goke Ilesanmi

Let me first say Happy New Year to you all. The year will be that of divine fortune, exceptional breakthrough, enduring peace and sound health for all of us.

    Managing a business is very challenging. As a manager, there are occasions when you will be compelled to make tough calls concerning your subordinates. Are you clever enough to help them keep their jobs without losing your own? As a manager, there is tendency for you to be fed with different types of excuses on a daily basis by those who work with you. Yet, Hans Finzel, author of “The Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make” says leaders and managers should desist from top-down approach to leadership or management. Top-down approach manifests in the form of abusive authority, deplorable delegation, lack of listening, dictatorship in decision-making, egocentric manner, etc.



 It is a fact that we all have an excuse once in a while. There are times when excuses are legitimate and unknown, such as a death in the family, a car accident, or the illness of a loved one. Mitchell T. T. of Mitchell Consulting, specialist in helping companies produce more effective and satisfied employees at all levels, says but overall, we hate when someone comes to us with an excuse. We hate having to deal with tardiness, or too many sick calls. We hate when people make too many errors and do not seem accountable for their duties. We hate that it all falls on our shoulders to have to make the tough call as to what to do all the time because we feel that just as we do things correctly, so everyone else should too.



If you are a supervisor, you probably have a little bit more freedom than your subordinates in some things. Surely, you have deadlines to meet, just like everyone else, but you have some benefits your employees lack. You can probably take a longer break here and there. But you do have more pressure because you are accountable for the work your employees do or do not do, but you also have more freedom. And, since you allow yourself to be promoted, you should be holding yourself to a higher standard than your employees. “That doesn’t mean you should let your employees get away with murder; it just means you should view your situation in a different light than you view that of those who report to you,” stresses Mitchell.



Lateness seems to be one of the biggest complaints ever heard about employees. However, some employees seem to violate this more often than others. As a manager, it is up to you to at least talk to the employees involved to discover whether there is an issue they cannot overcome or whether they are just unreliable.


Uncompleted assignments

   A lot of reasons account for uncompleted assignments. The first is that you do not ensure the employees know what is expected of them, or do not ensure they understand you. The second is that the time frame is unreasonable, and no allowances are made for outside obstacles. The third is that the employees are incapable of the task just because they are not up to the department standards.


What to do

 As a way out of the problem of uncompleted assignments identified above, it is always up to the managers to ensure those who work for them understand exactly what they expect of them. If you say they ought to know and you have never told them, no matter how reasonable you feel you are, you cannot get expected results. Unless you have worked with every person in your office for 25 years so that you definitely know each other’s habits, you need to verify. Though this seems tedious, you have to ask yourself if you are looking to get things right or not.  

 When all is said and done, you are the one who is going to be asked by upper management why things are not going right. How do you do all of this? One, you could write it out. Two, you could ask them to repeat to you what you said. Three, you could have regular meetings with your employees so that they can get to know you better, you get to know them better, and you then have better understanding of what they need from you to get things accomplished correctly.



As a manager, you need to know whether your expectations for certain tasks are reasonable or not, as well as whether there are factors which could change the time frame. Experts say, for instance, if you have a time-sensitive project and you have given it to a person whose main duties are to talk to customers on the phone, you have set this person up to fail. Or if you give extra work to the one person in the office you feel is capable of handling it, then that person is sick and no one else picks up the slack, you might not have a certain project completed.

Mitchell says work has to be as balanced as possible, and you have to plan for contingencies. You cannot expect unrealistic results from an uneven playing field. In today’s working environment, you cannot expect to be able to push people unreasonably all the time; they just are not going to respond to it as they might have in the past.


Getting too close

As a manager, you do not need to carry on someone who is holding down the department. All managers are guilty of this at some point. What happens is that sometimes we get too close to a person emotionally for one reason or another. We allow the excuses because someone may really be getting sick, or having family issues, or a myriad of other things. Sometimes we can get by because the rest of the team are holding up, and if you can deal with that, then fine.

However, if you cannot, you have to be willing and ready to talk to this person, help him raise his work performance, monitor him with his knowledge, and, if all else fails, let him go, or move him elsewhere.


Final words

Everyone has an excuse once in a while. Therefore, excuses should be allowed, if kept to a minimum. After all, we are only human. But you have to be ready not only to look at the person, but the situation, if your issues are recurring. As a manager, do not let the excuses cause you to make excuses to someone else or the upper management later.

Till we meet on Wednesday.

  GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Certified Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: gokeiles2010@gmail.com

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng


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