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A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. ~ Yiddish Proverb

The Blaming Game

The essence of the blaming game!

The term 'blaming game' is often used to describe a phenomenon which happens frequently within groups of people or teams; especially when something goes wrong. Essentially, all members of the group attempt to pass the blame on to someone else and absolving themselves of all responsibility for the issue. The blaming game can get quite complicated and people who are not good at playing along, may find themselves bearing the brunt of ill-will, as a result of whatever went wrong.

In addition to being quite frustrating and a huge waste of time, the blaming game - normally - also is very counter productive, because most of the time the blaming game either shifts or derails the focus of the issue from “how to solve..” to “who's fault is it…

The blaming game distracts people from why the problem occurred in the first place! As a result, the members of the group may miss out on a valuable learning experience, which would have allowed them to prevent similar errors in the future.

In order for the blaming game to be effective, a mid-sized to large group or team is needed and a structured hierarchy is ideal…

For example, the owner of a business may identify a problem and discuss it with a manager, who points the finger at another manager or staff member. When confronted, the fingered person will pass the blame on to someone of lower rank or points out another co-worker and so forth, until everyone in the group claims to to be the “innocent victim” of the problem and its cause. Setting themselves “free” from accepting any responsibility for the problem and doing something about it.

The motivations behind the blaming game are natural. Many people want to be liked and accepted, and they fear that taking responsibility for an issue that might make them to be disliked, and could - potentially - result in being rejected, fired or otherwise penalized. Most people also want to look good in the eyes of others, so they do not want to bear the shame of being responsible for a problem.

As a result, most people will pass the blame on to the next person, rather than dealing with the issue at hand, which can be frustrating for individuals who are genuinely not involved with the issue and just want the problem to be solved.

One way to avoid - or at least limit manifestations of - the blaming game is to use open and transparent procedures which can easily be monitored, followed up and to make individuals accountable for particular hot spots.

For example… At the end of the day, one person should be expected to lock up the premises, signing off on a check list, indicating that s/he has done so. It may also help to create an environment where individuals are rewarded for taking responsibility - even for their mistakes - as these mistakes can be utilized for teaching and learning that could benefit the group or team as a whole. Thus, employing the first do, then learn methodology.

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