Unfortunately, excuses exist everywhere in the workplace.

Some people make excuses about why they cannot afford to divert resources to a new project. “We have never done anything like that before,” “it’s contrary to policy” or “we are doing okay, we do not need to do that,” they may say.

Some people make excuses to cover for their own poor performance. “That is someone else’s responsibility, not my job” or “there is not enough time,” they may say.

Regardless of why excuses are being made, they can be detrimental to the health of the department or team and to the company as a whole. Excuses prevent progress from being made and may prevent the implementation of processes, policies and programs that could help the business take bold steps into the future and capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves.

Why excuses can be so hazardous to an organization
Excuses are bad because they set a standard for passing off responsibility. When businesses employ a constant excuse-maker, it is a problem that can cascade out of control quite quickly and lead to some major problems later on down the line.

For example, this person may be assigned a particular task and agree to accomplish it. When milestones are missed, the difficult employee may make excuses. If this a first-time offender, the leader often wants to give the person in question the benefit of the doubt, but in reality, all this does is vindicate the behavior and send the message that excuse-making is acceptable.

All of sudden, nothing is this person’s fault, but even worse, nothing is ever done. A task that could have been completed weeks ago goes unfinished. In fact, that assignment could have been given to someone else or had more people attached to it to ensure its completion. But as it is, the company has now missed some major milestones because of one employee.

Moreover, having one excuse maker may lead to the rise of even more. This can lead to an entire workplace of excuse-makers who never get anything done and are essentially counterproductive to what the company wants to do.

Moving the business forward and creating results
Communication is a vital part of dealing with excuses and a savvy business leader will be able to get past the excuses and help drive meaningful change throughout the company.

When dealing with excuse-makers, there are two vital things that leaders need to keep in mind: influence and understanding of the organization. By wielding these two tools, they will be better able to identify solutions to excuses and move around them, which will help them deal with this resistance more effectively. At the end of the day, this is crucial to not only circumventing excuses to accomplish goals, it also creates a healthier work environment that respects responsibility and promotes forward progression.