Chris Liles - It’s your fault...don’t blame me!

PUBLISHED: 09:53 12 March 2012

Chris Liles, business mentor (columnists for EDP biz).

Chris Liles, business mentor (columnists for EDP biz).

“How stupid of you to draw that line on the pavement, I fell over it!”

“How dare you say it was my fault, I always pull out of my drive at 08.00”.

“Had an accident? Let us blame someone and extract cash unfairly from them/their Insurers”.

Do we live in a Blame Culture? Absolutely, and you helped to create it …

• When you damaged your tyre, you whinged the kerb was too high or the pothole too deep.

• When you spilt coffee on your trousers, you moaned the mug you were handed was hot.

• Your under-performance at work was solely due to your colleague constantly talking.

Is it any wonder we react like that though, look at our role models …

• Insurers insist we must not accept blame for any accident, to avoid prejudicing recoveries in court.

• Prominent business people swear black is white then blame the Media for mis-representing them.

• Politicians fail to sell us on the value of their policies, so they blame the Opposition instead.

That last one always brings out the Grumpy Man in me (forget the ‘Old’ please). How long would we in the private sector survive in business if our advertising campaigns simply suggested our competitor’s service is rubbish? Why then do the leaders of our country set us that example?

Civil Servants seem to be constantly looking over their backs. Is it any surprise that they are watching their shoulder blades for the knife of blame delivered by their political bosses. Can you blame them that this culture diffuses down throughout the governmental machine?

With the migration of public sector staff to the private sector, they will find themselves in a very different culture. Or will they? Perhaps they will be at home in the Blame Culture that I have found permeates many businesses, especially larger ones. Perhaps it will be such a comfort zone for them that they unwittingly encourage its growth.

Despite defending the private sector above, I have noticed adverts increasingly emerging which are naming and shaming competitors. “Tesbury’s Supermarket tea is 10pc more expensive than us” - so beware, Blame Culture is spreading, coming soon to a business near you … or has it already arrived?

From twenty years of resolving business relationship issues, I can confirm it is (sadly) alive and well throughout much of the Private Sector too. The first stage of eradicating this crippling disease is to recognise it and develop the mindset to want to remove it.

To identify practical steps Google “blame culture solutions”, but here are some of my favourites:

1. Eliminate “fear of failure” culture. Recognise achievement and offer praise when warranted.

2. Stop your team laying blame on a colleague’s shoulders. Insist instead they bring you solutions to problems. Not “Who broke?” but “How to fix?”

3. Stop staff whingeing that someone else should have done it. Encourage instead personal responsibility for their actions and with them being accountable.

4. Eliminate the belief that mistakes are failures. Encourage staff to identify learning points i.e. how they would do the task differently next time.

5. Stop punishment for minor infringements. Illustrate personally your belief that we all make mistakes and forgiveness is available.

Incidentally, my fellow columnist Paul Tholen wrote an interesting blog recently “Failure - a route to success” touching on this topic.

Thank you to the seven people who recorded their thoughts below my last blog “Oi are you listening?” I look forward this time to reading even more of your thoughts and tips on avoiding a Blame Culture. If you do not bother to share your ideas with us and blaming increases, it will be all your fault!

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