There is nothing that I hate more than when someone provides me with an excuse for why something didn’t get done. NOTHING.
Let’s get one thing straight. There will be times when things don’t get done but I cannot stand it when people can’t own up to their mistakes. It removes every shred of credibility that you had with me. When you lie, it doesn’t just take you back to zero, it sets you up with a negative score (at least in my mind).
I would much rather have an employee that feels comfortable enough to let me know that other things got in the way and provide a valid explanation that an excuse.
There are two different times when this comes into play in the corporate setting. Work “mandatories” and work “fun”. When it comes to your work mandatories, my feelings are a little more strict. If you are being paid to do a job, don’t get it done and then provide a phony excuse – it makes me a little bit upset if not mad. When it comes to corporate “fun” meaning social outings or events put on to build team comradery – I’m fine you not wanting to attend. If you don’t want to participate then just say no. It makes you look silly when you commit and then don’t follow through.
If you don’t want to attend an event, just be honest. Please don’t waste the companies time or money by checking the yes box when you know from the minute you get the invitation that the answer is no. It’s okay to not want to attend social functions with people at work. It’s okay to have other obligations that come first. It’s okay to not enjoy hanging out with the people you work with. Just don’t pretend like you want to if you really don’t. You don’t have to advertise that you aren’t interested or sway others that are excited – just politely decline and move on. I used to worry that if I didn’t attend a social function it would make me look bad and honestly, I found out that if I don’t attend most of the time – no one notices that I’m not there.
Now, let’s talk about work assignments. If you can’t get something done on time because you must attend a family function, I get it. You have a personal life and I can appreciate that but please don’t tell me that you are going to get it done and then come in with a lame excuse when you miss a deadline. Make arrangements ahead of time, schedule out your plans, and then be honest with your timing. Don’t commit to timelines that are unrealistic. When you miss a deadline you put your tasks and others that follow that task in jeopardy and while it might seem like something small to you, there are probably other tasks that link to that one that gets pushed back and it puts other folks timelines at risk.
Once you have been working for a few years, you will have heard all the best excuses and know when someone is feeding you a line of bull. In order to save you from yourself, I would like to share a few of my personal favorites.
- There is an accident and the traffic was bad and you didn’t have time. Okay, but if you didn’t get the assignment two hours before you left your house, or you knew about it yesterday then that’s on you for poor planning pal. Accidents are inevitable and you waited until the last minute, am I right?
- You left my power cord at the office. Do you have a car? The road home from the office is not one way. If I forgot my kid at daycare, I am pretty sure I would have gone back to get them. If this did happen, when you come to tell me that you had this problem, you better have already been to see IT and have gotten a back-up cord for in your laptop bag.
- You had technology issues. I expect a screenshot of your computer screen. I will also be surprised if your technology issues just resolved on their own when you got into the office. I would hope that you are sending me this information from your phone while you are meeting with IT.
- I couldn’t get the document to open. Really? Every other time that you have worked on this it’s opened but today it just decided not to open? Strange.
- My computer was running automatic updates. Computers don’t just run updates. You get about a hundred prompts to run them and then if you don’t and you leave your computer on and open for an extended period they start. What this means is that you didn’t let the updates run when you were prompted a million times, took your computer home, opened it up to work, got distracted and your computer took over. Then when you realized they were running, you felt like the assignment wasn’t important enough to wait until they were done running to get it complete.
- I was having problems with my wi-fi. I am pretty sure that if it’s important enough there is a coffee shop, library, or friend that has working wi-fi. I’ve borrowed my neighbor’s wi-fi in the past… Just sayin’.
There are a million excuses you could use. But I’d rather you just be honest and aware of your workload and other commitments.
Pro Tip: My last piece of advice is that if you do use an excuse then please be smart enough not to post about what you are actually doing on social media.