Let it be known I said it loud here:
“I HATE BLAME GAMES”
People make mistakes. Everyday, every minute, and yes even people who claim they never have, DO make mistakes. My computer has even made a few, think Firefox5.0, and iphone apps that won’t load, mistakes happen.
I find that in work settings the biggest disruption to productivity is actually caused by what happens after a mistake. Here’s the scene, a mistake is made 3 people are suddenly made aware of it at the same. Rather than working together to solve the problem, the fingers start being pointed. YOU sent me this, YOU didn’t do this, and suddenly 3 normally productive people are spending 35 minutes each trying to cover their tracks to be sure THEY didn’t cause the mistake. All the while simply correcting the mistake would have taken 10 minutes and instead 105 minutes of work time are wasted playing the blame game.
I dealt with my first MAJOR mistake fairly early in my professional career. Although I can’t tell you to this day exactly all that happened or what could have been done to prevent it I can tell you exactly what I learned from it.
The abbreviated version goes like this:
I was in sales working on my first big account, we (the company I worked for) were beginning a great new partnership that would last for 3 years, along the way details were mis-communicated and it appeared a great giveaway was not quite as great as what we had promised the client.
When the mistake was caught, it blew up into the biggest blame game I have ever seen in my life with most of the blame coming my way! I accepted it and took full fault. I was fully ready to be asked to leave that day. In fanatical style, I quickly scrambled with the help of some wonderful co-workers, and one exceptional manager to fix the problem. At the end of the day we had fixed the problem and make the prize even better! Most of this was occurring through phone calls while I was fighting back tears at every step.
How could I have let this happen? And why hadn’t the client called me back all day long?
At 7:30 pm my cell phone rang, it was the client. I was sure I was going to get a lashing and more screaming demands of how this happened and who is to blame. I had gotten that most of the day from my managers.
I answered, and began my babble of apologies. I was taken back when the client stopped me and asked how I was doing? To this day I will never forget what she said and the amount of respect I gained for her as a professional and person in a simple 10 minute phone call.
“People make mistakes everyday how they happen isn’t nearly as important as how we deal with them.” She said she received five phone calls/ voicemails from various people at my company that day and one from me. My message was less than a minute, while one from another was almost 5 minutes long. My message was quick, as I was trying not to cry while leaving it. I was aware of the situation, I took responsibility and would have the problem taken care of by the end of the day, please call me to discuss.
The client who had a background in event planning and had always told her staff getting the job done was the #1 goal. No matter what happened the job needed to get done. An hour of bickering over who was to blame does not get the job done. Rather a person who accepts the mistake and works to overcome it will always be more successful than those who play the blame game. By the end of the phone call she was thanking me for taking charge of a situation, while others had chosen to take the time to try to explain how it was someone else’s fault, ( I’m assuming the other phone calls/ voicemails were much different from mine, and probably not flattering for me) I took the time to solve the problem, make it right and get the job done.
Although I do hate the blame game, it is an easy one to get sucked into. I’m leaving you with the message and life lesson that was told to me: “People make mistakes everyday how they happen isn’t nearly as important as how we deal with them.” I also learned how to treat the blame game for the rest of my professional career, as a productivity killer.
And I encourage everyone to remember this the next time the blame game breaks out in your Office or Home. Consider the time it takes to solve the problem (and get the job done) Vs. the time and energy taken by playing the blame game. I think you will find for your productivity sake you will always choose to avoid the blame game. I haven’t even tapped into the long-term effects on moral when it comes to blame games but that is anther blog post.