Thursday, June 8, 2017

3 Ways to Deal With a Blame Shifter

Many workplace cultures encourage employees to make mistakes as a way to learn and push toward innovation.

Unfortunately, there are still many workplaces today that also have little tolerance of missteps and end up breeding employees who become very adept at shifting the blame.

If you're a teammate of someone who never accepts responsibility for an error and is willing to throw you under the bus, then it's time to take some steps to ensure it doesn't hurt your career.

Here are some ways to handle others who try to put the blame on your shoulders:

1. Communicate. Too many times we get angry with a co-worker and blow things out of proportion as our stress increases. "Rob is blaming me because he's just an incompetent jerk. Now I'm going to get in trouble with the boss and lose my chance at a promotion!" is the kind of thought that circles your head at 2 a.m. when you're tossing and turning and can't sleep. But in the more rational light of day, try talking to Rob. He may be frustrated or anxious about something that is the underlying reason he's so quick to blame someone else. Hold firm in your belief that this issue is not your fault, but also be willing to take responsibility if you in any way contributed to a problem. Just don't let Rob wiggle out of being accountable.

2. Be rational. Just as you toss and turn with anxiety in the middle of the night, so does Rob. But if you break down the issue and try to get Rob to look at it more rationally, he may see that it's an issue that can be resolved and there's no need to panic and start blaming others. "I think you did the right thing in contacting the customer right away about the delay, and of course you cannot control his reaction," you might say. "I think the problem is that we need a better alert system when there are problems in production so we make our customers aware of the potential delays." By being objective, you help Rob see that energy is better spent coming up with solutions, not casting blame.

3. Step back. In these cases, you must be careful that Rob doesn't start to see you as the person who will save him. He may indeed stop shifting the blame to you -- but he also may decide that you're going to do his work for him and keep him out of hot water. When he runs to you for help, ask what steps he's taking to resolve issues -- but don't take on his work. You don't want to move from being thrown under the bus to being Rob's personal driver.

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