Want to Lead Your Team Away From the ‘Blame Game?

It’s April, and it’s time for some spring cleaning. So, here’s a bit of useless debris to wipe out of your office — the “blame game.”  


Nothing shuts down a talk like defensiveness — the conversation killer and the assassin of achievement. So many roadblocks in life and business come from people threatened by fear of fault finding. The long detours to avoid owning up to errors lead to reduced efficiencies, lack of communication, more errors, and more problems. Fear can create ugly emotional cycles that keep your company spinning in the mud.  


Is Fear Holding You Back From Big Gains? 


As a business leader, you’re inevitably going to feel exasperated at times when employees make mistakes. That’s OK. But when the feeling hits, take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to grab that stress ball. Take a short walk. Do whatever you need to let the initial feeling pass. 


Recognize this as a muscle-building moment in your organization, a way to reinforce solid processes. It begins with an emotional shift in yourself about this new issue. If you can’t shift away from your anger, you’ll contribute to new problems in the future by giving that employee motivation to hide future mistakes.  


Want to Become a Better Virtual Team Leader? 


The employee dropped the ball, and it landed on your food, causing pain. Ouch! Now what? 


  • First, Empathize. You’ve messed up before. You’ve been embarrassed. Draw on those moments. Recognize the negative emotions your employee feels and work toward resolving those bad thoughts as quickly as possible. The longer they peddle in the quicksand of guilt and humiliation, the deeper the rut will get. “Hey, you’re not perfect, but neither am I. I’ve had my share of mistakes, and I was OK. You’ll be OK, too. I appreciate you not hiding from the error and facing up to the problem. That is its own success. Thank you!”


  • Go on the Mental Journey: Ask the employee to walk with you through their process prior to the error. What information did they receive? What instructions were they given? Did anything unusual enter the process? Were there distractions? Did they need additional information? If so, how can we get that additional information to the employee? Be curious. There’s a railroad track between the beginning and end of the task, and somewhere, the employee fell off that track. You need to understand where and why. Then, you need to determine how to prevent it from happening again. Blame and bad feelings are impediments to this process. The correct attitude is: help me help you.


Can Your Mistakes Be the Catalyst for Strengthening Your Team? 


  • Fix the Process, Then Look for Vulnerabilities: When an employee makes a mistake, consider where you may have failed in communicating expectations. The employee handles tasks, but you oversee processes. Whenever you accept some culpability in the error with the employee, you build a sense of team. Consider whether the employee’s error could be made by others? Review other processes with this in mind, looking to eliminate vulnerabilities. 


  • Reinforce the Core-Value Moment: Don’t let a bad moment go to waste. Always cycle back to an overarching good. What are your company’s core values? Do you promote honesty, integrity, and service to others? Whenever a person messes up, they need to see the bigger picture. It’s a leader’s responsibility to bring that back into focus by promoting the greater good of the company and its value in the world. Stand up for those who show integrity in business, even when they err. But if the error wasn’t honest, if it violated the company’s basic integrity, then you need to let that person go. Failure to do so will undermine your integrity with your staff. Recognize the necessity of always aligning with your company’s core values, and frame all mistakes within this greater context.


Do You Need a Way Out Of Conflict? 


The “blame game” won’t push your company to the next level, but you can use mistakes as springboards to greater efficiencies and team dynamics if you play them right.  


If you want to talk more about team management, I’d love to chat.   


Click here to schedule a time at your convenience. 


linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram