Office Scapegoating — how to avoid being thrown under the bus at work
Office scapegoating — essentially throwing someone under the bus — is not all that uncommon. You will find that when things are going really well, everyone is jumping up and down to get all the credit, but when things at work are not so great, the blame game starts. It is, in fact, a pretty messed up thing to do, full of self-preservation and egotistical coping mechanisms
The best possible way to handle this is to avoid being made a scapegoat altogether. Here are some tips on how to do so:
- Know your roles/responsibilities. Your job description should not only be clear to you but the entire team. Understandably, some of your duties might fall outside of your description and even then, it might be time to arrange a meeting with your supervisor to have your job description updated in preparation for the review process. If you find yourself doing reoccurring extra work, it absolutely needs to be reflected in writing. That way, you have justification for a pay increase and are even more clear on your responsibilities.
- Do your job and do it well. Simply put: Cover your a*s. You should know the ins and outs of your job. Pay attention to deadlines — if anything is causing a hold-up or hiccup in the processing, be sure it's not because of you. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or see a particular situation spiraling out of control.
- Identify problems early. If you do come across any issues or red flags, notify your team immediately so that they are aware. Also, be clear on the resolution and get it taken care of immediately. Lastly, close the loop at the end of the process, letting everyone know that the situation has been resolved.
- Keep good records. Organization makes the world go 'round. Seriously. Timelines should be clear to all parties, but ensure that you are in full control of your deadlines. Teamwork consists of lots of moving parts, so if your part stops moving... Well, you know the rest. Read all emails carefully to ensure that you have not missed any additional written instructions with your name attached to them. Having an email trail has been instrumental in the workplace in holding others accountable, not to mention confirming that you have done your part.
- Be your own advocate. Should you ever be in the position to defend yourself, have all of your ducks in a row. Keep calm and professional every step of the way. Although it might feel like complete and utter betrayal to be tossed under the bus by a colleague, fully assess the situation in taking responsibility for only the things you feel are appropriate or warranted. Reject all others with evidence and without coming off as too defensive. We all make mistakes, and it's good to know what to do better the next time. This is a true test and sign of leadership.