Trust Tip Video: Managing Blame and Responsibility

Blaming other people is generally recognized as bad behavior. Not much disagreement there.

But the flip side of avoiding responsibility is – trying to take responsibility that doesn’t belong to you – is equally ugly. We know it by names like “control freaks,” “micro-managers,” or just plain obsessively neurotic people.

That’s what this week’s Trust Tip video is about: Managing Blame and Responsibility.

For more on the subject of blame and responsibility, you might enjoy reading “A Tendency to Blame and an Inability to Confront.”

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3 replies
  1. Bwhipple
    Bwhipple says:

    Hi Charlie. Good stuff on responsibility and balme. You mentioned control and micromanagement.
    I have a theory on micromanagement. It is not entirely the fault of the leader who is intrusive into the workings of employees. I believe the employees are at least partly to blame in many cases. Reason: I used to work for a leader who was known as the king of all micromanagers. He basically tried to run everything by telling people exactly how to accomplish their tasks. He was an excellent leader otherwise, but people always dinged him on being way too intrusive. I learned about his reputation before ever going to work for him. During my first few weeks, I went way overboard in my preparation. I would anticipate any potential question he might have and be prepared with data to support my conclusions. When he would suggest something to try, I usually could say, “it has already been done.” I would communicate my plans to him every day (including weekends) and ask lots of questions about what was wanted. He never had an opportunity to get to me because I always got to him first. After a while, he basically left me alone and did not micromanage me very much for the next 25 years. We got along great, while he continued to micromanage others.
    My rule of thumb on micromanaging is that credibility and communication allow you to manage things as you see fit. Lack of credibility and communication often lead to being micromanaged. Would that square with your opinions? 

    Reply
    • Charles H. Green
      Charles H. Green says:

      Bob, that is fascinating. You do great work on trust too, but it’s so interesting how we tend to see things from different perspectives. 

      You are walking evidence of the success of your approach, so let’s start with that. What you did can be done, because you did it.  Probably not by me, though.

      My perception is that you out-micro’ed a micro-manager. You took him head-on and gave him back more than he could dish out; you even pre-emptively co-opted him.  And it worked; again, you are evidence of that.

      But it strikes me that your strategy requires considerable patience, attention to detail, and willingness to put in a lot of work.  I can’t speak for others, but for me at least, I do not possess those virtues in sufficient depth to last out a guy like that.  Yet you put in 25 years with him.  I am impressed, and know I could never do it.

      I am not saying impatience is a virtue.  But if everyone tried to out-micro-manage the micro-managers, we’d have a world falling over itself to adjust to the neurotic habits of a misfit.  So I think there must also be another strategy, one that fits people who don’t have your patience and discipline (that would certainly be me).

      I generally had good luck with another strategy, one I learned from a handwriting analyst (hey, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!) 

      Basically it says, “If a micro-manager wants to micro-manage, then serve up something for them to feast on.” 

      That means, in every project, leave something not quite done, or go to them with, “You know, I’m just not sure how to deal with this one aspect.” 

      That way you give them immediate gratification, you control the area of their micro-management (which is critical, because otherwise they’ll insert themselves right into the core of the issues), and you get them out of your hair pretty quickly. 

      I don’t think that’s any more “right” than your strategy, but it does occur to me,”different strokes for different folks!” Or, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” 

      What do you think? 

      Reply
      • Bwhipple
        Bwhipple says:

        Sure, that would work, Charlie.  That is the strategy to give them something to cavil at so they spend their micromanaging chit for this round on something you control.

        You somewhat misinterpreted my note.  I did not have to put forth that kind of detailed information and effort for 25 years. Once he fully trusted me (took maybe 2 months) then he backed off from bothering me, and I was free for the remaining 25 years I was with him to perform using my best judgment. How liberating. 

        Also, a significant advantage was that he was a rising star, so every time he got promoted, he would drag me over to his new area and give me a promotion.  The coat tail strategy worked wonders for my career.

        Reply

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