My employee won’t take responsibility for meeting deadlines

Dear Aunty B,


I see you are back from your holidays! I had a few weeks off and came back on Monday expecting a project to be completed. Instead I got a load of excuses from the person who was working on it over Christmas.

This person is always late delivering work and he will just not take responsibility for deadlines. When I press him he gets cranky, which he did yesterday.

That made me cranky on my first morning back and break my new year’s resolution not to be bad tempered at work.

Any ideas? Should I be a bit soft on him because it was Christmas?

Chris S,



Dear Chris,

Why be soft because it’s Christmas? I am sure your employee gets his fair share of holidays at other times.

Look, Chris, you might be a bastard boss with ridiculous expectations on staff performance. But let’s say for arguments sake that you are not – that you are a near-perfect boss who came back refreshed from a holiday break and determined to stick to your many new year’s resolutions, which impressively is not to make more money and retire to the Bahamas but is to spread good cheer and make life more pleasant for staff.


Let’s also say that the employee has a clear brief, knows what he is doing, can do the job, does not suffer from lack of confidence or has a personal drama that is distracting him.

In that case you have a late deliverer on your hands and you have a right to be grumpy.


What you have to do is monitor his performance. You need to set very clear deadlines and confirm by email. Make sure you are very specific about the time the task must be completed. Specify that the project must be finished at, say, 11am on Friday and that you will meet with him at 11.15am to discuss the project and work on the next stage.


You should also let the employee know that if these steps are not met, a more formal performance management system will be implemented.


Remember the words of management guru Peter Drucker: “It does not matter whether the worker wants responsibility or not. The enterprise must demand it of him.”

Good luck!

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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