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Stopping the Blame Game

by Kate Moor March 21, 2010

2009 was a tough year for many.   2010 is proving to be just as challenging for me, some of the challenge is driven from the decisions we made in 2009.   The cause and effect!!!   

Most critical business related decisions are made by teams not individuals but how soon we forget when the results of those decisions come home to roost.  Behind the tension and the drama however there is often a very different driver.  The key is to understand what that driver and manifested behaviour is.   

The maturity level of any organization is often never more evident than when something falls over, goes wrong.   Immature organizations start pointing fingers, becoming defensive, blaming everyone else.   I have witnessed a lot of that type of behaviour lately.  Not only does it result in damaged relationships, it chews up valuable time, leads to a lack of trust.    Mature organizations pull together to resolve the breakdown.    I always believed that to be true but now I am not so sure.    I am fast coming to the conclusion that the drivers are more about us as individuals than the collective.   It is about our personal behaviours and not the collective culture.   It is up to us to try and understand why others respond the way they do and then in turn the way we react in reply.   


Some examples from recent experiences and shared story telling:


We recently discovered that an employee was doing the wrong thing.   This led to dismissal of the employee and in return the finger pointing started.    What we really should have done is been thankful because this event resulted in review of processes that have been flawed for a long, long time and that management have been avoiding doing anything about.   Now we have to take action.   Pity it got to this point but if the recent event had not occurred we would continue to struggle with complexity, processes and systems that are not optimal.    

Lesson:   My response to this event is to say we should thankful that our ex-employee did the wrong thing.  This was part of the employees ‘contract’ to help us improve.    

A colleague shared this with me recently.   A business leader in his organization has been creating chaos.   Blowing small things up into dramas and wasting a lot of internal time resulting in people once again finger pointing, trying to prove each other wrong.   My colleague allowed himself to be drawn into this drama and he started acting in exactly the same way.   If you dig below the surface however you find that there is a driver – there is a promotion coming up.   The ‘business’ leader coverts the role (and has done so for a long time). He is trying desperately to show himself in a good light and his business is struggling.  My colleague who has always stated he doesn’t want the role deep down believes he should be considered but this isn’t likely to happen without my friend taking action himself.     

Lesson:   My colleague recognized that he is resentful and he can do one of two things.   One; not be drawn in the same behaviour – stop the finger pointing and not support the same behaviour in his team.  What my friend dislikes with regards to his colleagues behaviour is a reflection of my friend’s behaviour.   Look in the mirror.   

With regards to the promotion my friend can both speak up and throw his hat into the ring.  Fight for the new role but stop being resentful.   If he really wants a promotion then do something about it.   This is within his control.  

My lessons; look for a deeper meaning.   Don’t respond to the superficial and when we dislike the reactions and the behaviours in others look within.  We are probably doing the same things ourselves – it is a reflection.   We can not change how others behave but we can change how we respond.