January 28, 2022

The Blaming Organization

I was talking with a young woman yesterday who recently left a company after she was written up for “walking too fast”. She told me this, and I thought I had heard her incorrectly. I said “Can you say that again?” She then said “I just left XYZ Company, and a part of their culture is to walk slowly to reduce stress, and I was reprimanded for walking quickly”.

She then proceeded to tell me that she was hired to do a job for which she was highly skilled and then was actually assigned another job (70% of her day) and that the job she was assigned was one of her biggest weaknesses. She was given high marks on the 30% of her job for which she was highly skilled and low marks on the job that was her weakness (duh?). And, supposedly she told them upfront that this particular skill was not her job and, the company did they tell her that “walking slowly” was a part of the culture (this woman is very fast moving and highly energetic, and any person with a brain could see it a mile away).

Why is it that we continue to do this to people in our companies? I hear this constantly, yet many leaders don’t stop to consider the consequences of blindsiding people on the job. Leaders get employees quickly to fill a position, feed them a bunch of bull during the interview and then blame them when things go wrong! Come on! Stop it!

My question for today is “Are you leading in a blaming organization? Or are you working for one?”

If you are, some of the behaviors might include:

1) Shooting the messenger

2) Squelching employee’s opinions

3) Saying one thing and doing another

4) Passing the buck up or down when you encounter a mistake

5) Closed-mindedness to new ideas

6) Poor training (or you are providing training one time a year in a classroom thinking this will do the job)

I believe that we can change this blaming organization to an organization which thrives on responsibility, respect and support. We can all start by implementing these steps:

1) Deploying talent (putting people on the right job where they can thrive and succeed).

2) Shifting our language “he or she did it” to “I take full responsibility for this incident” (if you are a leader or a manager involved in an accident [notice I don’t use the word mistake], then you are ultimately responsible).

3) Listening and appreciating your employees’ opinions by saying “Thank-you for your idea. I will sleep on this.” Then, get back to them on your thoughts around their suggestion.

4) Under-promise and over-deliver. If you tell an employee they are being hired for a certain job, don’t give them another job or make promises you cannot keep.

5) When you get bad news, sit down, take a deep breath and stop talking! Just listen, take it in, step back and calmly thank the person for the news.

6) Start providing on the job training and coaching on a daily basis. The best way to stop the blame game is to train people well on each and every step of the process and then make yourself and them accountable to their success (yes…you are accountable for your followers’ success. If they don’t get it after great ongoing training and coaching, then it’s probably time for them to move on).

We encourage your comments on this subject..

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