When I was doing some supervision training for student managers, we, of course, talked about how to hold their supervisees accountable. I provided some coaching language for them and they did some role plays. Inevitably, the person being coached had a litany of excuses as to why they did not perform well.

The managers in the training struggled with how to respond to the rationale that the “employee” provided, and I watched as the conversation quickly became derailed. As soon as the manager started discussing or even acknowledging the excuse, the focus on accountability was lost.

If an employee is not performing, does it really matter what their reason is? Yes, if they do not have the knowledge or resources to do the job well, but otherwise the host of personal excuses is irrelevant. If you are late, it does not matter if it is because of traffic, your kids or no parking: you are still late and the responsibility is on you to leave early enough to accommodate such delays.

I encouraged the managers, and would also suggest to you, to avoid discussing the reason behind a failure to meet expectations. Ensure that the employee knows what the standard is, ask them if they need help in meeting it, and hold them accountable from there. Anything further just leads you down the rabbit hole.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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