Make no mistake: Excuses Don’t Change Results!
The results are what they are. That does not mean, however, that excuses are not useful.
Excuses help explain why you attained the result at hand. Digging deeper into the excuse to translate what it really means, one can isolate the attitude, behavior or practice responsible for the outcome… and that is what must be addressed so as to change the results you will achieve going forward.
So when offered an excuse (or when you begin to offer one), dig down. What does the statement really mean? Once you answer that question, you can take the necessary steps to change future results.
Let’s dig below the surface on some common excuses now.
As we touched on already, “I didn’t have time” really means “I didn’t make time… it wasn’t important enough to me to prioritize ahead of other projects.”
How can we change this? What behavior or attitude or practice caused this?
Well, it could be that whoever assigned the task to be completed did not fully explain the importance, or confirm understanding of the importance and the deadline. Another explanation is that the person offering up the excuse is struggling with time management and prioritization, which is something you will want to coach them on. Perhaps they take on too many responsibilities, and need to tell you when they have too much on their plate… or they simply need to learn to delegate effectively and with authority.
Some other common excuses explain the results in a similar fashion, and lead to the same conclusions as to what must be altered or modified going forward to attain a different and more highly desired result next time.
“I/they didn’t know” as well as “I thought you meant…” point to the need for clear communication and acknowledgement of understanding. So does “It didn’t seem important.”
“Other stuff came up”, “I thought you needed that next week” and “I had too many things going on” tell us that time management and scheduling need to be addressed.
“I don’t have the right team” really means “I haven’t developed my team to the point that I need them to be in terms of production, efficiency, etc.”
The questions to dig deeper on this excuse are:
- Why haven’t you developed your team to the point you can depend on them and their results?
- What is holding you/them back?
- Are there specific technological or procedural barriers to success?
- If so, what are you doing to address them?
The answers to these questions will help change future results if you act on the information that you have uncovered. The practice of digging down on excuses improves candid conversations and clear communication, resulting in a better understanding of expectations, and thus more satisfactory future performance.
The upcoming book will explore excuses, what they mean, and how to address underlying issues so as to increase productivity, efficiency and the quality of your results. Owning your actions will be a major theme, and how to employ solutions-based practices such that they become habits of success.