‘S not my fault !
I was quite shocked recently after speaking to someone working at a large publishers, that the jolly old blame culture still appears be alive and kicking amongst the old guard. After several other conversations, it appears more so in today’s precarious economic climate.
Rule by fear – what a wonderful way to motivate people? Yet it still happens. I wonder what motivates people particularly those working in a team to turn on each other in such an amoral and gutless manner?
People’s refusal to be accountable and take responsibility still leaves me open-mouthed.
I have worked for two big Publishers where blame culture was rife. One actually had the temerity to list ‘ We are NOT a blame culture’ in it’s brand spanking new ‘Visions and Values’ I remember the stifled giggles as the CEO at the time read that one out and tried to explain the reasoning behind it.
The other company may has well have used heat-seeking missiles to pin blame on others – it was quite astounding to witness the parade of people being called to the ‘Witchfinder General’s’ office for interrogation and reward if information was retrieved.
In the latter, usually the ‘crimes’ were so minuscule they didn’t even warrant more than a quick chat.
It only served one purpose in that particular persons mind. To keep people on their toes. The result was a higher than average turnover in staff and in the main a hugely demotivated sales force.
I was taught in my first company about accountability, transparency and taking responsibility. I was never afraid to go into my boss’ office *hands aloft * and take responsibility for either my own or my teams actions. I was taught that ‘buck stops here’ I always treated every situation individually, fairly and unless I was lied to, the incident was forgotten within minutes.
Fear is the common denominator here. Fear of taking the blame, fear of the consequences of admitting responsibility. As a rule people do not like delivering ‘bad news’ professionally or personally, It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach and the sinking feeling when someone challenges you or worse looks at you with utter disdain and you feel totally floored.
Better 20 minutes of that though than being found out – eh?
So how do we instill in our managers and in turn our staff that it is actually alright to come and talk openly about issues or mistakes without all hell breaking lose
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Always be transparent – ensure that everyone is equal, fairly treated, knows what is expected of them and adopt a nurturing fear free, fun environment to work in.
2. If something goes wrong listen, don’t automatically make assumptions and start pointing the finger. If you have created the environment mentioned in no.1 then your staff will come to you openly, there should be no ‘hauling over the coals’. Mistakes are there to learn from so work with the person for resolution. Coach them to get them to come up with a solution. Praise them when they achieve it, but make them understand the severity of the situation if warranted calmly and with reasoning.
3. Don’t use them as an example – Vilifying someone else in order to ‘save your skin’ is the most cowardly, amoral thing you could do to someone you work with. If you are the manager you need to take responsibility for a mistakes on your watch. If you have a solution and a plan of action then there is no need to enter into such malevolent behavior. Present the facts and a solution and you can bet that your line manager won’t even blink as long as the situation is resolved with speed.
4. Aftermath - Remember your actions directly affect other people, not just the person concerned, everyone in your environment. More so than you could possibly imagine. With stress-related illness at an all time high now, think very carefully before acting. Do you want to be respected for your leadership and ability to create a transparent and fair culture or be remembered for being disingenuous and ruling in a blame culture?
I know which one I prefer being remembered for.
If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it, what’s more, you’ll be a man, my son.