Shouldering Blame . . . Succeeding at Work?

Shouldering Blame . . . Succeeding atI’ve found myself reading more and more posts on LinkedIn Pulse lately, where there suddenly seems to be an abundance of interesting and insightful perspectives on careers, mindset, and success. One comment that most recently caught my attention came from a piece by Liz Ryan on workplace behaviors that make people perceive you as unprofessional. She writes about how blaming other people for your mistakes can negatively impact your reputation. Another professional no-no? Ripping into your colleagues when they’re the ones who’ve erred.

I really liked that Ryan called out these two behaviors specifically. Right now, as I settle into a new job, many of my mistakes are attributable to being new, and so they’re easy to admit. That won’t always be the case. Yet, because I’ve chosen to take a position that challenges me and stretches my skills, I know more mistakes are to come. It will be important to remember that it’s better for my professional relationships and reputation to admit them and deal with them straightforwardly than try to hide them. After all, people often discover the root of the problem eventually, and it looks much worse if they figure out someone was being dishonest.

The other piece, about treating coworkers compassionately for their errors, also resonated with me. I’m a big believer in sharing credit for success with team members. Not heaping blame on them, even if it’s correctly placed, can be part of strong collaboration. Mistakes are a chance to learn and grow, and being kind to someone who’s made a mistake can maximize that teachable moment.

What do you think? What have been some memorable experience you’ve had with mistakes at work, and how did you deal with them?