In GM’s case, the ubiquitous corporate practice of deflecting blame and responsibility ended up being a matter of life and death as drivers of their cars died in accidents caused by faulty ignition switches that employees knew about but ignored or actively covered up. For in-house teams the stakes aren’t as high, but a culture of deflection and lack of accountability kills productivity, growth and the team’s spirit.
Adopting an objective solutions-based mindset where mistakes are opportunities to learn from and individuals are encouraged to explore fixes for breakdowns – not thrown under the bus – is one of the best ways to combat blame game dysfunction.
This can be especially hard for creative services groups who may often be dealing with clients who love to assign blame when projects go south. It’s up to leadership to openly accept responsibility for fixing problems while being careful not to scapegoat team members. If individuals know they’ll be protected and kept safe, they’ll be more inclined to proactively call out mistakes or potential problems positioning the group to get in front of possible breakdowns rather than having to respond to them after they occur.