The Office Politics of Taking Responsibility
I had always thought of accepting blame even when it was not all mine was a way of being not “passing the buck”. Isn’t that what they preach to you when you get your first job? Well like most things we are told – it’s a lot more treacherous than any of us ever knew.
Taking responsibility for errors not your own can be detrimental to your career growth. When it first occurred to me that there was a lot of politics in shouldering stuff that was not mine I was a new marketer, working for a crazy woman. I would work with my boss on a project … sometimes literally just doing what she said. If it flopped, she would blame me and I would own it. I thought I was being honorable (or something) but it just opened me up to be the “whipping girl”. Pretty soon I was shouldering things above my pay grade… and she was saying stuff like “You should have known I meant X when I said YFV with a side of Q”. *Blinks hard, twice*
Listen. Let people carry their own weight. I found that in a move to save themselves, they will point the finger to whoever will accept it. When a problem or mistake happens really think about which parts you need to own and improve, what is broken and speak up often! The office is not the streets, be a snitch. If you are taking direction from another person and that person sends you the wrong way… it is ok to say so.
This lesson cost me a lot to learn and I hope it helped someone. If you have a story about taking the blame and it backfiring, I wanna hear about it in the comments below.