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Management Tactic #11: Fingerpointing

March 22, 2009

When you encounter a problem at the workplace, fingerpointing is a must. Point your finger at the solution, not the problem (or who caused the problem). You’ll double your chances of solving the problem quickly and effectively.

A few years ago I walked past my boss’s office around 6:30 in the evening, after everyone else had left. He was in the middle of leaving a voicemail to his secretary–I tried not to eavesdrop, but he was accusing the coworker of dropping the ball on a scheduling issue, so it caught my attention.


After he finished the message, I asked him if everything was okay. He said no, that he was late for a reception, and his secretary hadn’t put the location in his Outlook calendar.

Bewildered that he was spending his time pointing his finger at his secretary when she wouldn’t even get the voicemail until the following day, I tried to refocus his energy on the solution.

After 15 seconds of pointed questions, I realized that information about the reception could probably be found within literature on the conference we were hosting. 30 seconds later I had found a discarded pamplet in the conference room, and 15 seconds later my boss was on his way to the reception. Solving the problem took about the same amount of time as leaving that voicemail.

I don’t know if it’s human instinct or just something that happens to some people, but when fear and panic set it, your first impulse may be to find someone to blame. Fight that impulse. There’s a time and a place for accountability, just not when you’re still trying to solve the problem.

See more Management Tactics here.

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