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Don't Blame; Encourage Accountability

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There is trouble in the workplace. A crisis has occurred, and it threatens to take a major client away from the firm for which you work. What do you do? Gather your team and do some serious troubleshooting? Definitely. However, what most of us will not admit is that in such situations we immediately start wondering who started the trouble in the first place and how we should deal with that person.

When problems occur, we are likely to start looking for someone to blame before we start looking for a solution.

The Language of Blame

Consider these two pairs of statements:
  • "We lost the account due to your sloppiness! Now you will be held responsible."

  • "If it weren't for your tactlessness, this department would have received a new set of computers!"

  • "We lost the account due to something entirely avoidable. This may be held against you."

  • "Had you acted more tactfully, this department would have received a new set of computers."
The first two sentences openly blame, while the last two address the problem more constructively. Accountability is holding someone responsible, whereas blame is most often accusatory. Blame also induces fear.

What Difference Does It Make Anyway?

The difference between blame and accountability is particularly significant in the workplace. Fear can induce a person to work, but it cannot cultivate enthusiasm. Fear can also put a person off entirely. Unfortunately, blame doesn't stop at hurting someone. It has the potential to seriously damage a career or a relationship. Fear of being blamed holds people back from acknowledging their mistakes or shortcomings and also destroys opportunities to learn from them. A more productive approach is to hold people accountable. If a mistake is made, it should be acknowledged so that a lesson can be learned for the future. People rarely get fired for making a few small mistakes, but they do lose their jobs if they go on making the same mistakes over and over again.

Fostering Growth

Holding someone accountable is different from blaming. Blaming is malicious and has the capacity to injure. Holding someone accountable, on the other hand, requires the person to take responsibility. The biggest difference between the two approaches is their effectiveness when it comes to encouraging employees to learn from problems so that future mistakes can be avoided.

Curbing Creativity

Fear of getting blamed prevents new thoughts and ideas from taking wing. How we hate to hear someone say, "This sounds like a good idea, but if it backfires, you will be solely responsible!" Comments like this very effectively nip new ideas in the bud. But with some minor linguistic changes, the same sentiment can be expressed in an encouraging manner.

Mistakes cannot be ignored. Nor can we gloss over them with evasive language. It is important to face mistakes and learn from them. Mistakes must contribute to the quest for perfection and growth. Blaming someone for a mistake allows neither of these things to happen. In the process, it tears down existing structures of confidence and passion—vital ingredients for professional development.
On the net:Workplace Politics: Is It Blame or Is It Accountability?

Organizational Change: Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Management Style: Accountability vs. Blame If this article has helped you in some way, will you say thanks by sharing it through a share, like, a link, or an email to someone you think would appreciate the reference.

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 statements  lessons  damage  employers  structures  good idea  responsibility  potential  pairs  enthusiasm

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