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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
This course qualifies for 5.25 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
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The blame game is an ongoing activity for many professionals at work. Real progress cannot begin, until the blame game ends. Blame is natural, but it's not productive. It's natural because when something goes wrong, most people don't feel great about saying, I helped cause that. So instead, we blame others. What I want you to remember, is that blame is really an acronym. It stands for Barely, Legitimate, Almost, Meaningless, Excuse. Think of blame as a partially true yet wholly unproductive process of faulting others instead of taking personal responsibility.
Sadly when you ask many professionals what the problem is, their index finger involuntarily thrusts outward to identify the culprit. Someone else. Not them. That's not useful because you know as well as I do that for most problems we face, there are plenty of folks who honestly share the blame. Your job as a good professional is to accept the fact that a lot of the time, even though there's plenty of blame to go around, some of it is yours. Instead of blaming, realize that the foundation of a great professional career involves personal responsibility as well as a lot of self-reliance and self-discipline.
You have to own what happens to you as meaningfully created by you. Only when you truly believe that will you stop blaming others. The next time you feel like blaming someone, or the next time you see others begin to rely on blame in a conversation, consider these tips for avoiding the blame game. Number one is to call it out. Whether you're calling yourself out or someone else, name it publicly, call it blame and suggest that we should avoid simple blaming. Next, admit your part. Whatever the conflict is, claim your ownership in having created it.
When others see you admit some responsibility they're far more likely to skip blame and get productive. Also, be sure to check your emotions. Nothing can derail a conversation, and turn it into the blame game faster than unchecked and heightened negative emotions. Instead, take a deep breath and frame your comments positively. Finally, seek root causes. Get past blaming people. And realize that the answer is very often a tool, a process, a machine or some other resource.
The more we talk about root causes in finding solutions to problems instead of talking about flaws in people, the faster we solve problems. Blame is natural, and inevitable, but you can follow these rules and make it rare instead of common. Once you get past blame, you'll be a better communicator and problem solver.
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