But It’s Not My Fault Because…
Do you have an employee who never accepts fault for anything? Does that person always try to change the conversation with the purpose of putting the focus on the faults of others? These employees try to use deflection to ensure the conversation doesn’t focus on their actions.
This is one of the more maddening problems that a manager or supervisor can face. We are trying to get the employee to see their error and then get them to improve on it.
I have written about the problem of employees who won’t accept accountability before here and the same rules apply. But my focus in this post is to dig a little deeper into the problem of those who want to focus on other people’s actions.
The Purpose of Addressing Fault
If as managers and supervisors we are acting correctly the focus of our actions should be on identifying the actions that are causing the problem and addressing them. The focus should not be about attacking the person or viewing at a personality issue.
Remember, you can’t change people. Your focus should be on establishing what the requirements of the job are and then holding people accountable for their actions. It shouldn’t matter if you like them on a personal level or not.
The Underlying Issue is Insecurity
Generally, when an employee is unwilling to accept fault it is due to some insecurity on their part. They may feel deficient in their skills or knowledge. Or perhaps they feel that their manager or supervisor has a negative opinion of them. There may also be underlying team friction that is causing their defensiveness.
Identifying the source of the employee’s insecurity may be important to get them to accept fault and then work on correction. If you understand why a person is reacting the way they are you can develop a strategy that will address the issue in a positive and productive manner.
Not understanding the underlying causes will only lead to stress and conflict.
Addressing the Cause not the Person
When dealing with a person who won’t accept fault the first, and most important thing is to not lose your cool. Yes, they drive you nuts but don’t buy into it. They succeed when you lose your cool because it takes the focus off the problem.
Always keep the conversation focused on the problem, on the actions of the person. Avoid letting personality enter the discussion. Keep focused on actions – what did or didn’t happen.
If the conversation turns to the actions of others don’t take the bait. This is what they want. Say, “I understand there may be other circumstances or reasons but the only thing you can control is your actions” or “I will deal with those issues with those individuals but I want to talk about how you can improve”.
Keep the focus on helping the individual to improve. Don’t focus on punitive or disciplinary action unless you are at a point where it is necessary.
Your goal should always be about helping your people improve. When your people do well, your team does well, and the organization does well.
The most problematic employee will respond in a positive manner if they truly believe their manager or supervisor has their best interest in mind.
As the Manager or Supervisor, You Need to Direct the Conversation
As the manager or supervisor, it is your job to ensure that the conversation focuses on the correct things. You must have the emotional intelligence and the skill to turn the conversation to a productive end. You do this by keeping the focus on the actions that are in the employee’s control.
Help them to understand that what is in their best interest is focusing on their own actions. Your concern needs to be about helping them to succeed. If you can get them to focus on their actions and keep the conversation their you will demonstrate your concern for their success.
At the end of the day hold them accountable. Do not let them redirect fault. Help them understand how it is hurting them personally and how correcting the problem will benefit them personally. Help them understand that you have their best interest in mind – you want them to succeed. Don’t focus on personalities. Focus on actions.