Eleanor Shakiba- The social dynamics perspective
When blame game tactics are at play, you’re likely to find lots of ‘us and them’ style stories being told. Employees who tell these stories usually cast themselves as victims and maintain that their ‘difficult co-workers’ are persecutors. If managers or team leaders step into rescuer roles, the blame game will continue. So it’s important that managers and supervisors remain neutral and objective. Here are four ways to do this.
1. Reframe the issue
Once an employee thinks differently about a conflict, they’ll find it easier to stop playing the victim role. Your job is to help employees put aside feelings such as anger, so they can view the problem objectively. To do this, you can use reframing techniques. Try saying:
▪ It sounds as though your relationship with [name] needs to change
▪ Lately you’re finding it hard to get on with [name]
For more information about how to reframe, view Eleanor Shakiba’s video here.
2. Spotlight the speaker’s contribution to the problem
Remember that the employee needs to take responsibility for their part in game. You can help them do this by asking spotlight questions, such as ‘How did you react when [name] said that?’ or ‘What impact did your reaction have on the situation?’ Learn more in Eleanor's full article.
3. Focus on defining the ideal relationship state
Step three of ending ‘poor me’ stories is about giving the employee motivation to change. It involves building a rich, sensory-specific description of the ‘ideal’ relationship state. Take your time during this stage. The longer the employee spends visualising a positive future, the more motivated they’ll be to create that future. Prompt their imagination by asking solution focussed questions. Read Eleanor’s full article for tips on how to do this. Or hear her explain how to deal with blame games in this month’s video.
4. Design an action plan
Finally, focus on working out what the employee will do next. Start by using solution focussed questions to guide the action-planning process. If necessary, provide micro skills coaching to help the employee master new assertive, communication patterns. And always close the conversation by setting a date to review the employee’s progress in carrying out their plan.