My friend was working her very last week at a job she didn’t like for people that she didn’t really like. Anyways, on her last major job there was a snafu. Things went south. Her peer made a suggestion in order to ensure that neither of them got in trouble for a job not well done. Now, it wasn’t actually either of their faults. Basically, someone didn’t upload something that should have been uploaded or something like that but one of them had a genius idea; blame it on Peggy, she’s on vacation this week. There are more than a few things wrong with this scenario.

Imagine WHY They’d Do This

As I said, neither of these individuals actually did anything wrong. In a reasonable work environment they’d be able to go to their bosses and say, “this didn’t work…here’s why.” They’d offer a reasonable solution and their bosses would say, “ok…great” and that would be that. But there are a lot of incredibly unreasonable work environments out there, and this was one of them.

The “leadership” team had instilled in these employees a general sense of fear. They had built an environment where people were afraid, even when they were doing absolutely nothing wrong. They had built an environment where people were more concerned with covering their ass than actually getting the job done. And that’s not a good place to get work done.

Keep Your Friends Close

So…you’ve worked really hard. Exceptionally hard. And now you’ve earned yourself a vacation. So, you’re taking a much deserved break, enjoying some R&R and while you’re off, your coworkers decide to throw you under the bus and blame you for something that you had absolutely no involvement with.

Imagine that. What would a place like that feel like? What would working at a place like that do to you? How would you feel about the people that you worked with? Would you do your absolute best, knowing that the people around you care so little for you… or would you do exactly the same back? This is how you build an absolutely toxic work environment and it happens way to often.

How Do We Fix It

First off, leaders need to learn what leadership actually looks like. Leaders don’t pass the buck, they don’t shirk responsibility. Leaders expect the best and they model the behavior they expect. That’s literally what leadership is.

Once we feel comfortable that leaders will do the right thing, it’s time for everyone else to do the right thing. Coworkers need to work together, not against each other. Teams need to work the way teams ACTUALLY work. Teams work together. Teams stick up for each other. Teams (successful ones) don’t bicker and shift blame. Teams are better than the sum of their parts and that’s how it should be at work.