Laying blame can defeat teams and ruin relationships.
When we blame someone, that person being blamed typically feels hurt or threatened. Reactions can range from shutting down to lashing back.
Ultimately that person who was blamed loses trust in you, and we all know trust is the foundation of relationships.
A past coaching client and I were having coffee a few weeks ago when she told me how angry she was with the way her business partner recently treated her. They are involved in a major project with a tight deadline. They both committed to it, but now that things are getting stressful and they're not sure they're going to succeed, her partner is "freaking out" she said. The partner told her "I only agreed to these deadlines because you said it was possible. I knew I shouldn't have." My client interpreted it as "this is all your fault!"
My client went on to explain how she could get past the fact that her business partner was emotional and probably just needed someone to blame because he was feeling out of control. The thing she was having the most difficulty with was trusting him to be truthful. Was he really feeling that way in the beginning? Then why didn't he say something? And if he wasn't feeling that way in the beginning, but just blaming her now, what is that all about?
When we play the blame game, we're not dealing with the real issue.
We're trying to scoot around the problem.
Sometimes we're not even aware that we're acting this way! The real issue is usually much deeper than that which you are blaming someone for. In this case, her business partner might be fearful of the financial impact, or mad at himself for not speaking up, and/or he could be feeling guilty for not doing his part. Or maybe he has a habit of not taking personal responsibility, or he may be afraid people will judge them as unsuccessful. The point is, there's something else going on. And it can be easier to blame someone else then take ownership of your own part in it.
Just think about when blaming happens within your team at work. Not only does it damage the relationship, but it causes significant problems on the entire team. I've heard countless stories of how employees felt their manager threw them under the bus, or took credit for something they did. Team members complain and blame others when they can't finish their project, or the quality is sub par, or there wasn't effective communication.
By the way, when managers tell people to stop blaming someone else, it's almost useless because the issue is deeper.
If managers don't get to the real issue behind the blaming and if they don't continue to deal with similar problems then ultimately the team will erode.
And if managers are not giving credit where it's due, or they're throwing people under the bus, the damage is enormous. The scariest part is that it's very difficult to measure, but what it's costing your bottom line is greater than any other liability!
So, how can we go from a blaming mindset to a mentality of "owning my part, and how can I help?"
Join me August 2 for a free webinar to find out what managers can do to get their teams fully accountable! Here's where you can sign up: From Blame & Complain to Accountability & Ownership for Teams Webinar
And hey, just for attending the webinar, I'll give you a very cool self-awareness tool that helps you identify when you're in blame mode! Perfect for team discussions on the topic! I hope to see you there!