Have You Ever Been the Office Scapegoat?

If you answered yes, you join the 30 percent of senior managers interviewed who have accepted the blame in the office for something that wasn't their fault. And more than a quarter did so because they didn't want anyone else to get in trouble. While it's professional to take responsiblity when you've goofed up, regularly throwing yourself under the bus for the sake of the greater good can backfire.

There's a better way. A smarter approach is to help create an office culture of accountability and help make sure the blame game isn't played in your office. Follow these tips:

  1. Admit when you're wrong. It's better to acknowledge a mistake you've made than to try to deny it, cover things up or shift the blame. Others may find it easier to forgive and forget if you come clean from the get-go.
  2. Move on. When something goes wrong, don't get wrapped up in pointing fingers. Focus on what should be done to resolve the issue and avoid similar problems in the future.
  3. Don't always be the fall guy (or girl). It's understandable for employees to cover for a colleague from time to time, but try not to make a habit of it. The individual who made the error may continue to make mistakes, and you will be the one whose job could be at risk.
  4. Keep everyone honest. Make sure expectations are clearly outlined for every project. Document each person's responsibilities and contributions so there's accountability.
  5. Give credit where it's due. Acknowledge colleagues for their accomplishments and call attention to group successes. Make sure you're also getting the recognition you deserve by providing status reports to your manager.

And if you know someone in your workplace who is the champion of the blame game, forward this along. That's teamwork.