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The Professional Conundrum: Excuses v. Acknowledgement

Posted on May 5, 2010 by Arianna

Skipper the Penguin from Madagascar

As a team leader I understand that people make mistakes, just as I make mistakes. However one of the best things to see as a leader is someone who acknowledges when they make a mistake, instead of providing an excuse for it.  I understand providing reasoning, but I would much rather see that acknowledge the mistake and learn from it, then to hear a list of excuses. Here is the bottom line when it comes to excuses - You will NEVER succeed in life or at your job if you don’t stop making up excuses.

I have read many articles on how to help employees overcome the urge to provide excuse after excuse. Kelly Ketelboeter’s article on employee excuses provides four steps to helping employees: listen, ask questions, use empathy, and sell the benefits. “Keep in mind when an employee is feeding you line after line of excuses they are really saying, ‘I’m not comfortable. I don’t fully understand. And I don’t see what’s in it for me."  Using the four skills outlined above will help you work through and overcome any excuse they throw your way.” As true as this statement may be, the truth is that we can only help employees to a certain extent. If you want to succeed at your job then work on listing the excuses you have used before, start addressing those excuses and take action.

Of all the excuses I have heard over the years, the worst thus far is “I didn’t know.”  My immediate response back is “Then why didn’t you ask?!” It truly is that simple. If you are given a task and you have questions, or red flags, then ask.  Don’t just proceed do the work and hope for the best, especially because chances are you are doing the job wrong. Asking questions will help you understand your task and will allow you to accomplish it correctly, not only will you get your job done but you will also show your leaders that you are truly engaged in the process, and interested in having a clear understanding of your job. Believe me, anyone interested in learning their job well is noticed when it’s time for employee reviews.

Blaming others for your mistakes is also far too common. When some people realize they have made a mistake it can be a natural reaction to try to find someone else to blame it on.  Cowardice is the only word I can use to describe people who blame others and in reality this is just another form of an excuse. Eventually this employee will realize that they are slowly but surely losing respect from their manager and colleagues – guaranteeing their failure at the company. Throwing others under the bus to cover your own misgivings will only lead to a reputation of being someone who is untrustworthy.

If you have been giving excuse after excuse for every mistake you have made, it’s definitely time for you to change. The next time you think about giving an excuse, whether it’s for a mistake you made, the unmet goal, or late project, try to remind yourself: No Excuses! Like Skipper the Penguin from Madagascar said “Don’t give me excuses, give me results!”

 

 

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