17 Nov

Software Industry is full of blamers. We see blamers in all levels of hierarchy from Junior level personal to senior leadership team.

Have you ever heard below statement,

‘It wasn’t me. It was them. Seriously They messed it up. I did warn them, but would they listen to me?’ And on and on they go. This might sound familiar?

One of the other pattern is ‘It wasn’t me.’ and then we can feel the abnormal eye contact(intense or shifting ) and abnormal speaking tone( desperate or tight).

We can often sense a tightness and even panic in the person  who is denying responsibility – whether they are going on at length about it or just flatly denying it. So, we have to deal with their panic and avoidance, as well as the situation.

Often this blaming happens because the person finds it hard to accept responsibility for what they’ve done or to apologize for the effects of what they’ve done. Maybe they take personally what they did wrong, as a reflection of who they are (eg instead of stopping at ‘I got that wrong’, they automatically add something like ‘… so it proves I am stupid, again’). Maybe they’ve suffered punishments in the past for making mistakes,and are avoiding the possibility of punishment again? Maybe they’ve been told that it’s a sign of weakness to apologize or accept responsibility? Whatever the reasons or the causes, their blaming seems almost like an automatic reaction.

Whatever organization we’re dealing with – a team, a business,a hospital, a school, a family – the key is to establish a safe culture of responsibility-without-blame. This is easy so long as we focus on future activities and leave people’s identities
(ie who they are) and feelings out of the equation. (This might puzzle or even shock people who’ve been used to blame and punishment, so be prepared if they need a bit of time for it to sink in.) We hear a lot about establishing a ’blame-free’
culture, but how can it be done? below are some tried and tested

  • Break the pattern of protestation by interrupting them if necessary. Stop them ‘doing’ blaming, however they do it.
  • Focus on the future, and what needs to happen.
  • Try ‘Forget what has happened; what exactly needs to be achieved?’
  • You may need to give them time to come back to you on this, but when you have the outcomes clearly agreed, you can then ask them, or agree with them, how exactly the outcomes could be achieved, and by whom, by when, and
    with what resources and support.
  • Learn by reflecting: ensure that each person involved thinks about what they’ll do differently as a result of what they’ve learnt from this episode. Some people will benefit from doing this one-to-one. Some teams or groups will benefit from doing it together. Or a combination of the two might work. (Not only does this reflection enhance the overall learning of the individuals and the team, but also it demonstrates that punishment is not necessarily the best way to function.)

One of the reasons I am writing on some of the soft skills is that we need to create awareness about soft skills. We often ignore soft skills but they are very essential part of the job and life.


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