Alan in New York sent us a great email about coworkers who “pass the buck”:

“I have a coworker who is driving me crazy! She’s like Teflon. When our boss asks why things are delayed, she refers him to me. When her work isn’t 100%, it’s someone else’s fault. When things go wrong, she expects everyone else to fix it. Oddly enough, though, when it comes time for recognition of a job well done, she’s at the head of the line…”

Most of us have seen this type of behavior before. Buck passing, after all, isn’t unusual to find in a workplace. It can be tremendously frustrating, though, when you are working with someone who consistently won’t accept responsibility for his (her) actions.

Although the buck-passer can sometimes appear quite confident, he is very often someone who is insecure about himself and his job. He doesn’t like to be in a position where he might be perceived as less than perfect. It’s a defence mechanism – one with frequent negative consequences for the people around him.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you find yourself with a buck- passing coworker:

1. Document stuff

Just in case he gets tempted to start pointing a finger at you, make sure you’ve got a paper (or electronic) trail

2. Point it out

Be direct (but not nasty). The next time he tries to pawn something off on you, say something. If you don’t confront the behavior, it will never stop.

If all else fails, you can even try a little light-hearted ribbing, with comments like: “Gee Fred, is anything ever your fault?”

“I’m going to call the Guinness Book of World’s Records. That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen anyone get out of work!”

“You must be responsible for something around here…” “Wow! Even Houdini couldn’t get out of things that quickly!”

No guarantees – but doing something will be better than doing nothing!

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