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Fix the Problem Not the Blame

The Problem

Does this sound familiar?

There's a huge mess at work. The cause could be bad process, unforeseen risks becoming issues or any number of reasons. This is the time when all hands should be on deck to put things right. Then THAT coworker pipes up, the one who seems more interested in finding someone to take the fall than in solving the problem, and you find yourself and your colleagues in a sea of negative emails with scores of recipients on them, finger pointing in meetings, and side conversations laden with suggestions of what others may have done to cause the problem.

When an issue surfaces, it is tempting to steer attention toward a human target who will absorb the negativity, allowing everyone else to breathe a sigh of relief. But the problem is still there along with some added toxicity in the work environment.

The Positive Path

Some of the best advice I ever got for problem situations was to step up and help colleagues focus on a fix. Clarify the problem parameters, make any helpful suggestions that come to mind, bring people together to brainstorm, plan the solution, and execute on the plan. This method does bring attention to you, but it's positive since your coworkers see you as a proactive problem solver.

Following this advice can lead to numerous benefits for your team. You help colleagues approach the situation with a growth mindset, providing opportunities for learning, creativity, and innovation. You promote stronger relationships through collaboration. You also encourage more effective teamwork as you and your coworkers seek ideas and inputs from each other.

There is a tremendous benefit for you, as well. You become known as a solution-oriented leader.

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