Personal Power & The Blame Game

It’s one of the most common things we find when working with companies

facing morale challenges: employees feel some things aren’t right; but
they feel powerless to change or influence their situation. This inevitably leads to apathy, disenchantment and loss of productivity. Often, though, what many people have lost sight of is that the power to influence our surroundings has less to do with our positions within an organization, and more to do with our
dispositions. Sadly, a great many of us haven’t actually lost our power – we’ve given it away. We do this to a great extent by playing the blame game.

Consider the middle manager who’s been charged with implementing a change in process. He approaches his employees, beginning with, “OK, this is what theywant us to do…”

Think about the message this sends to the employees. By not championing or taking ownership of situations, he has just positioned himself as a powerless pawn in the organization. If that is indeed the case, why should employees be inclined to respect him or respond to him?

Consider the customer service employee who’s dealing with a customer. She explains to the customer, “I know it’s frustrating, but that’s the way they want us to do it…” Having just been told by the employee herself that she has no power, why would a customer not be inclined to escalate an issue to someone with greater authority?

Consider the coworker who regularly complains about the stupid things “they” do. Again, the message is that he is completely at the mercy of a bunch of stupid people. Hmm. What does it say about the person who chose to work for them?

Blame is a wonderful thing. It makes us feel better when we can convince ourselves that we’re smarter than the people around us. (after all, if we were in charge, we wouldn’t be making all of these obvious mistakes, would we?) And let’s face it; as long as we have someone else to blame for our woes, we don’t have to feel responsible for fixing things, do we?

Casting blame, however, while perhaps giving us some short-term satisfaction, damages our opportunities and happiness in the long term. It disempowers us and tells everyone around us that we are not willing to take control of those things within our control.

Instead of looking for what’s wrong or who’s to blame, look for what’s right and how to make things better. Here’s a great rule to live by: Champion it, fix it or leave it. Blame is a game for the uninspired.

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