What to do when your employee is an excuse-making machine


Hiring is the third most important aspect of every business after the big idea and funding. But it’s the fuel that sets your business rolling and, if the fuel is faulty or adulterated, your business vehicle will collapse and take you down with it. While basic precautions like sourcing the right talent hunt company, setting interview patterns, indulging in elaborate one-on-one sessions and so on are viable solutions, they often fail to detect a special kind of employee – the one with excuses.

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These employees may have passed the written test with flying colours and impressed you with their answers and mannerisms during the interview, but when it comes to real work, they have nothing up their sleeve but excuses. From having viral fever or an overstaying mom-in-law to being stuck in traffic, an employee with ready-made excuses can bring down the productivity and morale of your company. While they show potential occasionally, they are simply not reliable when it comes to work and consistency. In such a scenario, what are the options left with the employer? Should they fire them, confront them or simply let them be for as long as their behaviour is acceptable? We help you solve this riddle.

If the employee shows promise

Take time to respond

Time is a great healer because it’s an excellent solution-provider. When you first hear of an employee making an excuse, rest on it. However, if you hear it repeatedly (and from different sources) spend some time analysing the problem before taking the action.

Don’t trust just hearsay

Office is another name for the rumour mill. In order to be certain of the employee’s tendencies, conduct a small experiment of your own. Reach out to their senior and ask them to delegate the employee with a job. Ask the senior not to mention that it has come from you. The employee's action will ascertain whether the complaints are true or not.

Sit with them and ask questions

A direct approach is the best. When you choose to confront the employee, be prepared. Look up all the work that the employee has made excuses about. This would include the number of times they came late, left early, took too long to finish a simple job or did not show up for an important meeting. This will help you see through the excuses the employee might be committed to offer during the confrontation.

Find the loopholes in the excuses and point them out

Be assertive in your assessment. While you point out their achievements, be sure to share with them proof of situations when their absence, laziness, unwillingness (all rendered in the form of absurd excuses) cost the company valuable time.

Make it clear that you know

Confronting a good employee over matters like these is never easy. But if it has to be done, it should be done right. This begins with telling the employee that you know what they have been up to and that it’s their potential that had made you wait. Tell them you believe in them and what they are capable of but that there are limits to which the company can bear their sloppy attitude.

If the employee does not show promise

Don’t wait. Confront.

This can happen only when you are deeply engaged with your employees. When you know them and their capabilities inside out, confronting becomes an easy job. If you are aware that a certain employee is in some way not suited for the job prescribed and is making random excuses, confront them immediately.

Be straight with them

It doesn’t help to beat around the bush. Tell them you know what they have been up to and how far you are willing to go if they do not mend their ways right away.

Give a warning

Give them a warning. Give two. Give three. But if you fail to see any real change even after three warnings, turn on the sack button.

A crossover between the two types of excuse-making employees

Don’t end up becoming the emotional bait

Employees who are adept at making excuses often gauge situations in a far superior way than others. The reason is that they are constantly looking for a way out. Making excuses becomes their defence mechanism. Once they sense threat or are caught, they will play the emotional card more often than not. At such a time, you must rely on the knowledge you have dug up and your ability to outwit the conman.

Don’t act like their parent

If you are influenced by sob stories too easily, leave the confrontation to the HR or a senior manager.

Follow up as if you mean it

Don’t let your warnings hang in air. Follow up on the employee’s response or lack of it. Let them know you are the one in charge here.

Be aware of what their excuses are costing the company, and be prompt to point them out

When you let them know that you know, do so by using facts as your aid. Point out the number of times they made excuses, bring in witnesses and show them how it affected the overall business.

Don’t be angry, intimidating or rude

Be thorough and professional. It’s a small world, and the chances of you running into your employees are high. When you confront an excuse-making employee make sure you handle the situation with certainty and dignity, boldly yet calmly.

Employees who are always ready with excuses do not go a long way. Sooner than later their complacency and unwillingness to work catches up with them. To avoid working with such a breed, be very careful during the selection process. If that doesn’t work, make sure to use our tips to maintain your peace of mind.


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