The blame game is always harmful and destructive. It undermines any team dynamic and creates a stressful work environment. When something goes wrong and people sense there is a witchhunt for fault, people react by hiding, covering their behinds, misrepresenting facts and being increasingly cautious. Nobody engages in a productive conversation to learn from the mistake. This negative dynamic only perpetuates the issues and increases the likelihood they will be repeated.
However, in an environment of ownership and commitment, people only tolerate open, honest discussions that lead to the source of problems and allow for real resolution. In this environment, no one is interested in who’s at fault, but rather in getting to the source of problems. In this environment, people are eager to volunteer their insights, observations, and energy in order to address what was missing, what needs to be corrected, and they take personal ownership for resolving the issues.
Unfortunately, most workplaces are filled with people spending more time trying to avoid blame for something that did – or might – go wrong, than in anticipating and addressing real problems.
In a healthy environment, people are also much more open to receiving feedback including constructive criticism, because the name game is “how to improve and get better,” rather than the common “gotcha” environment where they are consumed by the fear of being caught.
In an environment where everyone looks out for themselves, people tend to compete for credit and be threatened by others getting it. Credit serves as evidence for being better than others, so the unspoken theme is
“Look how great I am!”
and the mindset is: the better you are the worst I am and vice-versa. Needless to say, in this environment, people can’t genuinely be happy with the accomplishment and success of others, therefore they are far less inclined to recognize and praise others too.
But, in a healthy team environment, where people feel they are working together towards a common aim there is no angst about credit and blame. In this environment, people are much more inclined to view others accomplishments as their own; they are far more generous in providing praise and recognition to colleagues. This produces energy, inspiration, motivation, and a desire to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful. In this environment, the concept of the whole is larger than the sum of its parts – becomes a natural reality.
Which environment are you working in?