How the “blame game” is killing your business.

How the “blame game” is killing your business.

Finger-pointing versus fixing; how blame is hurting your business!

When something goes wrong in business, it’s natural to want to fix it. It’s smart to want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. But getting to the bottom of problems is NOT the same as assessing blame.

How did this happen vs. who is to blame?

I’m big on accountability. When things go wrong in my businesses, we need the person, or persons, who contributed to the issue to raise their hands and say, “Oops, that was me,” followed swiftly by “I’m sorry,” and most importantly, “Here’s how I can help make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Occasionally, if the error is significant, we might need some assurance that everyone involved gets the gravity of the error. A quick talk about the issue to drive home why these kind of mistakes can’t happen again should do it. No one needs to be tarred and feathered!

The thing is, blaming team members hurts productivity, it demoralizes staff and it won’t help — at all — to make sure the issue doesn’t come up again.

On the other hand, empowering your team, showing them that you get that accidents happen and modeling forgiveness does the opposite; your team will feel inspired, trusted, appreciated

Here’s why “sorry” matters…

At Oak Street Social, we have a policy in the Creative Department, which I run, that when we make a mistake, we apologize to the client. Typically, it’s a small mistake and the client doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but nonetheless we apologize.

It’s our way of internally holding ourselves up to our mission to deliver quality at every turn. So, even when we miss a small detail, we apologize.

This is the difference between accountability and blame; accountability is something we take on ourselves. In fact, we welcome it!

Blame is something we assign to others.

Accountability says,  “I own this mistake,” while blame says, “I want to find fault.”

Accountability stands for moving forward; blame focuses on the past.  

Accountability recognizes that everyone falls short sometimes And, more importantly, accountability allows us to look at the circumstances that surround mistakes. Blame suggests that the person is the problem and the way to fix the problem therefore is to get rid of the person or punish them in some capacity.

 How to get your team to step up and take accountability


1.  Address deficiencies! You do not want your team to cover up their mistakes, nor should they be condemned for making them.   

2. Delegate authority. This is hard to do when you don’t accept that others can — and will — make mistakes! One of the best ways to get superior performance out of your team is to give them the authority to make choices and allow them to embrace the responsibility of the task at hand. 

3.  Brutal honesty. A team that is accountable does not need to be babied. A team that is accountable does not need you to “sandwich” criticisms with compliments. Instead, discuss in frank terms when something goes wrong, then coach towards a solution.

4. Develop trust. Show your team that they can trust you to forgive their errors and in fact, to understand them. Trust changes everything. 

Are you struggling with accountability on your team? Do you find yourself trying to place blame? Let’s talk! Share your concerns in the comments below…