If you were to pick one thing that could kill your company, business, and/or organization fast, what would that one thing be?
Would you pick …
- A bad strategy (or lack of a strategy)
- An arrogant or difficult leader/boss
- A change in the economy
- A lack of teamwork
- A lack of trust
- Poor marketing
- Poor selling (or no selling strategy)
- Products that don’t deliver what your target market wants, etc.
If you were to pick one, what one would you pick?
We could go on and on, but you get the point. Excuse-making is overwhelmingly prevalent in every business and organization—and much more than you or I would like to admit. In fact, why don’t you take a moment and write down your answers to the following two questions.
- What are your most common excuses?
- What are your employees’ most common excuses?
II. The Reason This Is So Critical To Attend To
Why is excuse-making/lack of personal responsibility so dangerous? Answer: Because business growth and success are driven by individuals who are willing to own delivering a certain result.
In other words, when a culture of excuse-making is allowed to exist in a company, that owner/leader has literally removed the impetus for growth and change. Or to put it another way, when there isn’t a culture of personal accountability, everything falls apart. Projects get delayed. Calls don’t get made. Blame gets bandied about. Trust is destroyed. Tasks don’t get completed. Morale suffers. Revenues decrease. And real change becomes unattainable.
As you read through that list, did you find anything positive in there? Not a chance. Why? Because, no matter how you add it up, excuse-making ultimately kills initiative and drive while ruining trust and relationships.
So, as you look at your own business, how has excuse-making affected you and your business/organization?
The cost is rather high, isn’t it? You see, while we like to think that what holds a business back is something big like a wrong strategy or tactic. The reality is that what usually holds us back is something something much smaller—something internal, something in our heads, something like … excuse-making.
III. Plan to Eradicate Excuse-Making ASAP
If you want to re-engage responsibility and initiative—as well as create a culture of execution and speed, here are a few thoughts.
1. Model Responsibility Taking
At the end of the day, all business and organizations become direct reflections of the person at the top (for good or for bad). So, the quickest, fastest and easiest way to change the culture in any business or organization is for the person at the top to model the preferred behavior.
In this case, it would be you first owning the responsibility of creating the wrong culture in the first place. And then actively making sure you own your own mistakes—as well as owning the responsibility of actually completing your assignments on time. Remember: people do what people see. The more you model responsibility (and refuse to blame others), the more your people will catch on that it’s a new day in town.
2. Refuse to Tolerate Poor or Incomplete Performance
Again, at the end of the day, if we don’t hold our people accountable (let alone ourselves), then we can’t blame them for their lack of performance. We let them get away with it.
Now, for some of you, I know this will be difficult because, by nature, you’re a people-pleaser. You like people liking you. You don’t like being a hard A. You don’t like confrontation. Yet, you have to remember, just as in parenting, the goal of being a leader isn’t to be liked. Your job is to make them better.
In other words, you’re doing a disservice to your people if you don’t hold them accountable. You’re stunting their growth when you ought to be pushing them and helping them to get closer to their full potential. Or to put it another way, you’ve got to stop protecting yourself (from being disliked) and start protecting the people you’re leading. They need you to hold them accountable—both for their professional and personal potential.
3. Make it a Team Effort
Business is a team sport so make it a team effort. As the leader, you shouldn’t be the only one holding everyone accountable. Empower your team to do the same. They can do it verbally, “Hey, Joe, that sounded like an excuse to me.”
Or you can make a game out of it. For example, anytime anyone hears someone using an excuse (so that they don’t take personal responsibility) the person making the excuse has to put $5 in the lunch bucket. You could even keep a tally on the wall of who’s contributed what to the lunch fund (hey, a little peer pressure never hurts :-).
But whatever you do, make sure you enlist the rest of your team in the process of eliminating excuse-making from your business.
Any way your add it up, excuse-making is toxic for your business. It can literally kill your company. It will deprive your people from taking ownership and responsibility for their actions. It will stunt your growth. And it will destroy the kind of trust and relationships you need to build a fast growth business.
In light of that, what are you going to do this week (and in the weeks and months to come) to eliminate excuse-making from your business? Don’t rush by this. It’s probably more important than you think.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you want to create the kind of culture in your business that’ll drive rapid growth, and you don’t have one yet, then make sure you get your own copy of my book on “Breaking Through Plateaus: How to Get Your Business Back on a Double-Digit Growth Curve By Creating a Culture That Automatically Produces It.“