• Tracie L James

Eliminate Your Team’s Excuses

As a team leader, it’s a constant battle to keep your team fully engaged on the tasks necessary for consistent success. It’s inevitable that your team will bring you a multitude of excuses. No matter what you must have a strategy to get past their excuses to get the results you need.

Over my 20+ years in business, I’ve heard them all. As a result, I had to develop ways to get past their excuses. It doesn’t matter how “valid” an excuse is considered you must push past it and get the work done. Your team’s goals will not be accomplished if you don’t stay focused on finding the solution to each excuse.

When I took my first position as a sales manager, I was met with so many excuses that I was overwhelmed. If you’ve ever worked retail, you have a range of people who work for you… full-time, part time and temporary associates. You are met with excuses for being late, missing shifts, missing goals, customer complaints, etc. From their perspective, they were always justified by the reasons they gave me so they didn’t feel they should be written up or have it reflected negatively on their performance. I learned the importance of the preemptive strike. Get past their excuses before they ever use one.

My team mantra became solutions not excuses. I pushed my team to look for the solution in the situation and not an excuse to justify what had happened. The more I pressed them to eliminate their excuses, the fewer excuses I received.

Here are my tips for getting past the top 5 excuses before your team ever says a word.

Excuse #1 – I don’t have time… I have too much on my plate…

Be sure to discuss current projects when adding a new project

Be sure to help them prioritize their work so they don’t feel overwhelmed.

Personally, you need to do the same… prioritize what you’re doing. Learn to say “NO”.

Excuse #2 – I didn’t realize that was what you wanted me to do… I thought you wanted me to do this…

Be sure your staff understands clearly what they need to do

Ask them to repeat back what they “think” you’re telling them to do

Write it down. Answer their questions.

Personally, ask questions so you’re sure what is expected of you before you start. Time is too precious to waste heading in the wrong direction.

Excuse #3 – I can’t hit that goal… That sales goal is way too high. It’s unrealistic…

Break the goal down into smaller pieces.

Show them what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly

Show them how incremental changes in sales can impact the total goal

Personally, do this same process for yourself so you can see new goals in a better light…

Excuse #4 – It won’t work… This change just doesn’t make sense. The old way works just fine. Why change now?

Change is inevitable… learn to manage it

Have the conversation… let them vent their frustrations… be prepared to address them (don’t get defensive)

Discuss how the change will grow the company or department – outline how it will improve their job or profits of the company… They want to know how the change will make things better for them.

Personally, look at change as a good thing… change your mindset… Ask yourself how will this make things better for me in the long run… will you learn a new skillset… the more positive you are about the change… the easier it will be to make that change…

Excuse #5 – I’m not ready to do this (insert task)… I can’t do this (insert task)… This is just too hard…

Imposter Syndrome – a high achiever who feels they are not qualified despite all they have accomplished in the past… afraid of being found out..

As the manager, you need to be sure they are prepared for the task you’re asking them to do… Walk through the process with them and answer all their questions… Provide words of encouragement… Check in to answer any new questions… Be sure to applaud their progress throughout

Personally, remind yourself of how well you’ve done in the past… You can do this… even if you need to be trained… Ask the questions up front… It’s ok to have questions when taking on a new task or project…

Know that you’re not the only leader facing a never ending stream of excuses, but you do have a choice to continue to accept it as the status quo or choose to do something to change it. My passion is helping you build a high performing team by eliminating the excuses blocking your team’s success.

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