In a recent survey, 30% of senior managers interviewed said they have accepted the blame in the office for something that wasn’t their fault. More than one-third (34 percent) who took the fall reported they did so because they felt indirectly responsible for the problem, while more than one-quarter (28 percent) revealed they just didn’t want to get others in trouble.
Managers were asked, “Have you ever taken the blame at work for something that wasn’t your fault?” Their responses:
Managers who responded “yes” also were asked, “Which of the following best describes why you took the blame at work for something that wasn’t your fault?“ Their responses:
|Felt indirectly responsible for the problem||34%|
|Didn’t want to get others in trouble||28%|
|It was a minor infraction that wasn’t worth arguing over||25%|
|An explanation would have been more trouble than it was worth||12%|
|Don’t know/no answer||2%|
|*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.|
While it is important to accept responsibility when you’ve made a mistake at work, sometimes executives may feel compelled to take the blame for something they did not do. Depending on the infraction, being the scapegoat may only serve to hurt an executive’s reputation. To that end, OfficeTeam offers five tips for navigating the blame game at work:
- Admit when you’re wrong. It’s better to acknowledge a mistake you’ve made than to try to deny it, cover things up or shift the blame. Others may find it easier to forgive and forget if you come clean from the get-go.
- Move on. When something goes wrong, don’t get wrapped up in pointing fingers. Focus on what should be done to resolve the issue and avoid similar problems in the future.
- Don’t always be the fall guy (or girl). It’s understandable for employees to cover for a colleague from time to time, but try not to make a habit of it. The individual who made the error may continue to make mistakes, and you will be the one whose job could be at risk.
- Keep everyone honest. Make sure expectations are clearly outlined for every project. Document each person’s responsibilities and contributions so there’s accountability.
- Give credit where it’s due. Acknowledge colleagues for their accomplishments and call attention to group successes. Make sure you’re also getting the recognition you deserve by providing status reports to your manager.
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