Blame games feast on culture!

Chris manages a restaurant chain of 40 restaurants in her country. One of her restaurants was scBlame games eat culture for breakfastheduled to go for usual refurbishment works and quite obviously she needs to allocate h
er staff to other restaurants which are already running with low staffing. She shifted some staff to a few other restaurants and kept some home delivery drivers to a nearby low revenue earning restaurant hoping to serve the customers of the shutdown restaurant by home deliveries. Perhaps a decision was taken by her and her immediate team down the line. The idea could only be to avoid disappointing the existing customer base seeking home deliveries. Not a bad idea from the thought perspective but could ruin the satisfaction quotient because of time delay that it could take to deliver since it is now from another restaurant which is few miles away from the shutdown restaurant.

This perhaps a wise thing to do from her point of view, and may not be appreciated by someone else in the organization and they would find it a chance to blame Chris spreading the virus gossip saying she has put all her team in one place where there are less business and what’s the point in doing home deliveries to catchment areas of closed restaurant when your orders are going to take time and delay, resulting in customer complaints. Well, it’s a personal view but it can damage the morale and health of an organization.

Have you not come across such spleens in the organization? They exist in every organization. Their point of views could be very valid but is not manifested maturely, causing cancer in the organization. They are people who derive pleasure from blaming. No doubt, their views have a business sense and logical, but the method of expressing the same wounds the health of the organization. One cannot avoid the existence of such elements in an organization but the beauty is in handling their critical creativity. These type of people come with an attitude to blame others or just to create unrest and animosity in the organization. They are but talented being with tremendous inner potential left unguided.

On another day, one of Chris’s restaurants had a breakdown of the fryer. It went unattended for more than 15 days and it’s not that she didn’t do anything about it. It’s just that the maintenance team had to get a part changed and the finance wouldn’t release cash for a direct purchase and, of course, Chris is stuck, maintenance head is stuck and it’s usual for Chris to get stuck like this in between the organizational bureaucracies. Yes, one would argue that Chris as a business head must bring the sky down if the business is affected by the internal process bureaucracy. Well, that comes out only when the passion for business is strongly rooted. Maybe Chris is on top of the matter, also, the maintenance head is biting his teeth on getting this fixed. But someone is playing behind them on this given opportunity. Our virus friend is at work… Usual rituals of blaming Chris for not taking ownership of the situation, blaming maintenance head for no seriousness etc.  Such issues are common in any organization and it happens when empowerment is in short supply and decision making is criticized. This is a huge leadership concern and such matters left unaddressed would peril an organization. Leaders have to calmly observe such scenarios and fix the processes, systems and the management practices for knitting the organization’s DNA.

While the leader should ideally focus on the issue from a broad perspective, it is very natural for one to get swayed by the super active viruses who is on a public platform with a hidden loudspeaker propagating the incapability’s of Chris and Maintenance head, leading to an organizational chaos. It is often said the blame is a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.

When you watch closely at these influential elements in an organization, it makes us realize that they are brilliant talents but misused. They have a negative approach in contributing the right stuff to the organization. They also think logically and they are talented, they are guardians of organization’s business interests but, unfortunately, screws up their method of efforts in a blame culture. If you observe them closely, you can sense a deep passion for business, operations, growth, righteousness etc. in them, unfortunately, personified wrongly in the organizational structure. They are someone who would not straight talk but would love to sit next to the ear of leader and bite it hard with all their intellectual critics, messing up the leadership’s perception of people similar to Chris and our maintenance head in this example.

While such elements are an important aspect of an organization like the good and bad bacteria that a human body has, a mismanagement of its balance would topple life.

A leader is actually a doctor who diagnoses the growth of such bacterial infection in the organization and manages it with the right medication. But if the doctor cannot diagnose this nor recognize the existence of such viruses, the doctor could get infected as well, leave alone the organization. A doctor has to be a learned man and a lone thinker for perceiving these with a sense of maturity and balanced thinking.

On the other hand, if the leader gets carried away with these blame games, then do you know what it does to the whole organization? It just feasts the culture of blame.

Can you imagine an organization where the leader himself finds it easier to blame his business leaders or functional leaders? If the leader of the organization has a good ear to listen to these blame games of an influential member of his team, and if those ears don’t filter stuff but straight away takes to the reptilian brain and vomits it out as another corporate blame, the structure of blame culture is established. A leader who takes ownership doesn’t resort to blaming his people for failures.

A great leader comes in the front when things go wrong and stands behind when victories are experienced.

When blame games eat culture for breakfast, the organization’s focus turns to destroying talents. The sense of ownership flies out the window.

Where does the organization go in such a scenario? It is a misnomer to think that a culture is shaped by the HR of an organization. It’s the manifestation of a top leader’s thought process and HR becomes an enabler in the game plan.  In an organization, if the string is pulled by a single leader which is normally a case when it comes to single owner businesses, the accountability of a culture lies with him.

I am sure there exist the viruses like the above in any organization. The savior in all such organization lies at the intellect of the leader. Believe it or not, the leader at the steering holds the control of cultivation of blame culture. If your organization is infested with blame games all across the lines, then look at where it is originating from, where it is nurtured, where it is fostered, where it is multiplied, where it gets propagated? And God bless the organization if the answer lies at the CEO of the organization. And God bless the organization if that CEO is irreplaceable or is the founder himself.

I write this for those CEOs who dream of corporate culture but lives in the reality of narrow dubious culture. It is easy to blame your colleagues or your subordinates, it takes courage and commitment to guide them. It takes wisdom to lead a team to a positive work culture. Watch out for those words like ” he didn’t do it” , ” no progress after you took over the responsibilities”, ” ever since you joined, things turned worse”, ” I do not have good people” , ” our people are not performing” , ” everything happens only when I tell”, ” nobody in this organization takes responsibilities”, ” everything is slow in this place”, ” I retained your people” , ” everyone signs the resignation of people as approved and no one bothers to retain and it’s me who took initiative to retain people”, and many more … Can you see the “I” in this? Can you see the “No” factor in these? , it just emanates from the deep rooted passion for blaming others and if it’s in the blood, it never sees the purity. Perhaps a dialysis could save the life of the organization.

In a scenario like this, the one who serves breakfast to CEO is our blame game boy. In such an organization, everyone works towards doing what pleases the boss and care less for system or process or product or business. And the sincere performers goes unnoticed. The concentration of top leadership goes in earning that brownie point from the CEO by filling his or her ears. And the unfortunate CEO gets derailed by his ear keepers, not knowing he is nurturing a wrong plant in his garden. It is a pity that in such organization, these blame game boys and those who kisses the ears of the praise hungry CEOs get their banks filled with constant wealth.

It just goes to tell me that leadership is something that one needs to attain by listening to one’s inner self, devoid of the external voices. 

It is important for CEOs to learn that blame doesn’t move the game on! A learning culture enhances team performance.

Binu Prasad

Image courtesy: Google

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