I was going to call this new category for my blog
“Mama AnnMaria’s advice on not getting your ass fired” but it turned out to be too long to fit in the box.
It may surprise young people in the work place to find out that people who admit to having screwed up are often valued more as employees than those who are blameless.
Who cares whose fault it is?
One of the things that drives me crazy is when the first thing (and sometimes the second and third thing) an employee does in response to a problem is to find proof that it was not his or her fault. There are a whole lot of reasons why this is stupid, bad and will eventually get your ass fired.
Are you exclaiming.
What? Why would you fire the one person who never makes a mistake?
Well, for starters, you are clearly delusional. Everybody makes mistakes so if you are convinced you NEVER make mistakes, it is never your fault, then you have a tenuous grasp on reality that you may suddenly lose one day and begin mowing down your co-workers with an Uzi, convinced that they are evil demon zombies out to eat your non-mistake-making perfect brain. As a responsible employer, I cannot take that chance.
Next is the fact that you are wasting time and energy. You could have found the missing data and gotten it to Dr. Cflange. Instead, you put your effort into finding that email from seven months ago where Bob said we didn’t need to worry about sending the data to Dr. Cflange to prove that it wasn’t your fault that the data was not sent to our collaborator, after all, Bob told you not to bother. So, here we are, three hours later and Dr. C still hasn’t gotten the data. Besides, the fact that Bob told you that seven months ago when Dr. Cflange was in Uzbekistan does not absolve you of responsibility of sending out that data any time until the end of the world. Plus, Bob hates you now.
Which brings me to my next point – if you are always claiming you are blameless, then by implication, you are blaming someone else. Your boss is not stupid.
It’s like that time when my mom came home and the front window was broken. She asked what happened and we all swore up and down that we had nothing to do with it. She asked,
“So, you were all just standing around and the glass just fell out of the window?”
We all swore that yes, it had happened exactly like that.
(Mom, if you are reading this, it wasn’t me that pushed one of the Slattery boys into the window. Just so you know.)
Unlike me, who did not throw said sibling under the bus, if you are pointing at Bob and saying,
“It was him, it’s his fault, not me!”
Then, guess how likely Bob is to be inclined to help you out in the future. So … people who are always blaming everyone around them are not going to have as good teamwork with their co-workers.
Listen carefully here, because this next part is really important. Let’s assume the people you work with are not idiots, that there is a reason you are working for them instead of them working for you. Let’s call that reason -“experience”. Not being idiots, your bosses realize that everyone makes mistakes.
Employers are not looking for people who never make mistakes. Those people don’t exist. They are looking for people who can fix problems.
Final two reasons never taking responsibility for any mistake is going to eventually get your ass fired –
If every time an issue comes up it’s like an argument before the Supreme Court to get you to address it because you are so involved in gathering your evidence why it was not your fault, eventually people will quit pointing out problems to you because it’s just not worth the hassle.
If you never believe that any problem is your fault, then you will never get any better at preventing them, because none of the problems that occur have anything to do with you.
The most impressive interactions I have with employees often begin like this:
“That was my mistake that X happened. I would like to take the responsibility of fixing it by doing Y.”
Those people are probably never going to get their asses fired.
Now you know. Act accordingly.