I have a friend who works in a blame game culture. People at his office save every single e-mail just in case. They call it their CYA policy. This isn't a healthy environment but what can he do to change it (besides the obvious answer of leaving)?
1. Emphasize the Future
Moving forward, don't revisit the past, use mistakes as lessons and move on. When something goes wrong, don't get wrapped up in pointing fingers. Focus on what should be done to resolve the issue and avoid similar problems in the future.
2. Create the RIGHT Relationships
Make friends and work closely with those who don't throw others under the bus. Try to get on projects with those people and create a strategy of shared collaboration and accountability.
3. Just the Facts, Ma'am
It can be difficult when you feel you're chronically being blamed. Don't let your emotions get the best of you. Stand tall and use your facts. Give an accurate description of the events with no emotions involved. Be specific and include time lines. Follow that with "here's what I could have done better". It'll get your point across and also show everyone you understand what happened and the part you played in it.
4. Messed up? Admit it.
Everybody makes mistakes...even if I love to say "I'm practically perfect in every way like Mary Poppins", I'm not. Be the first to step up and say "This was my fault." Tell the team what you learned from the mistake and create a system so it doesn't happen again. You'll cultivate a no-nonsense reputation and people respect that.
5. Don't Be That Manager
As a manager, you are responsible for your team's successes AND failures. If you're at fault, tell people. If it's someone on your team, work with them to create a plan of action to fix the mistake and to ensure it's not repeated. To prevent the blame game, set clear goals with timelines. Each member of your team should know their responsibility and due dates.
It's okay to make mistakes as along as we accept them, learn from them and don't repeat them. Let's all agree to stop playing the blame game and starting using mistakes as a learning tool.
Do you have any blame game stories? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!
Megan A. Dutta