Friday, October 11, 2013

Are You the Scapegoat at Work?

Everyone makes mistakes, but it's often difficult to own up to them at work.

We may fear getting in trouble with the boss, or we may worry that confessing will hurt our reputation or career permanently.
When people make mistakes, the biggest problem is often fear that causes them to try to cover it up, says Daryl Pigat, a branch manager with Robert Half International in New York.
"You have to own it. If you don't admit it, it's going to come back to haunt you," he says. "Take responsibility, say what you've learned from it, be willing to move on and don't harp on it for six months."
What if the mistake wasn't really your fault, but you get the blame?
According to a recent OfficeTeam survey, managers can get caught in this situation.
Thirty percent senior managers say they've accepted blame at work for something that wasn't their fault, according to the survey, based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees. Why? Some 34% report they felt indirectly responsible for the problem; 28% said they didn't want to get someone else in trouble.
While the attitude of taking one for the team may be admirable, Pigat says such a strategy can undermine your career if you're constantly shouldering the blame for mistakes.
"You don't want to become the scapegoat," he says. "You have to walk a fine line because you do need to worry about yourself. While it may be easier to diffuse a situation by accepting blame and moving on, you don't want to be a lackey."
For some workers, it's not easy to avoid becoming scapegoats when the boss constantly blames errors on them.
In that case, document what's really happening and show how you were not responsible for the error, Pigat says. If the situation doesn't improve, it may mean you have to talk to the boss privately about his penchant for heaping unwarranted blame on your shoulders.
When confronting a boss on difficult issues, some basic rules apply, says Renee Evenson, author of "Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People." She has this advice:
• Stay calm. Focus on the facts and offer a positive (read more here)

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