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what to do about the blame game

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nakatago
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Postby nakatago » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:43 am

And I thought weapons were banned in Singapore. Apparently, every resident gets a standard issue blamethrower.

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Postby v4jr4 » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:49 am

Steve1960 wrote:I think I have worn down my staff! Every time the blame game started I asked three questions:

What is the root cause of the problem

Do we have or need a containment

What is the corrective action.

Its the standard Quality questions I just applied them to all the issues big or small and any topic. Now I see less of the blame game because they know what's coming :-)


So far, as a code monkey, that's the time when finger starts to point at someone, or at least, something :P
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Postby Steve1960 » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:52 am

hahaha yes.

I have difused that situation. My teams know that if finding the root cause leads to the finger being pointed at an individual either nothing happens or if required they get some additional training.

The real problems come if the same thing happens a second time........................

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Postby Brah » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 6:34 pm

And that Steve, is a good way to get people to be accountable, by giving them the chance to fail and not be crucified for it, and to give them motivation to not do it again.

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Postby x9200 » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 7:08 pm

Steve1960 wrote:hahaha yes.

I have difused that situation. My teams know that if finding the root cause leads to the finger being pointed at an individual either nothing happens or if required they get some additional training.

The real problems come if the same thing happens a second time........................

Moreover, they are very opportunistic so it is rather difficult to find the right balance between what is right and the highest level of acceptable long term negligence. In many situation saying there is no problem who did it, lets focus on solutions only promotes some negative behavior.

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Postby nakatago » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 8:48 pm

v4jr4 wrote:
Steve1960 wrote:I think I have worn down my staff! Every time the blame game started I asked three questions:

What is the root cause of the problem

Do we have or need a containment

What is the corrective action.

Its the standard Quality questions I just applied them to all the issues big or small and any topic. Now I see less of the blame game because they know what's coming :-)


So far, as a code monkey, that's the time when finger starts to point at someone, or at least, something :P


It also comes from above. Based on true events:

"We're running 3 days behind on that thing you asked me but the second part is on its way, can be done real fast and I can easily make up for lost time "
"Why are we late? What's wrong?"
"We underestimated the effort needed. I told you I needed five days for this but you insisted on three."
"You have been doing this for so long, you should've avoided this in the first place. Tell me; what's wrong."
"But I just told--look, I can catch up on lost time. You just need to let me do--"
"NO, NO, NO. That's unacceptable. Tell me; what you could have done to avoid this."
"I told you I needed more time than you gave---I give up. Can I just go back to work? We're not getting anywhere."

Four days earlier...

"I need five days to do this."
"Why five days? You must show more confidence. Can't you do it in a day?"
"I can't do that. The scope is too big."
"C'mon. You must challenge yourself."
"I told you--I need five days."
"C'mon; do it in three."
"I really can't. That's too aggressive. I need five."
"NO, NO, NO. That's unacceptable. You must be able to do it in three."
"But..."

And he promptly walks off cutting further negotiation.

"I need to go to a meeting. I'll come back for your status after three days."

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Postby v4jr4 » Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:53 pm

nakatago wrote:
v4jr4 wrote:
Steve1960 wrote:I think I have worn down my staff! Every time the blame game started I asked three questions:

What is the root cause of the problem

Do we have or need a containment

What is the corrective action.

Its the standard Quality questions I just applied them to all the issues big or small and any topic. Now I see less of the blame game because they know what's coming :-)


So far, as a code monkey, that's the time when finger starts to point at someone, or at least, something :P


It also comes from above. Based on true events:

"We're running 3 days behind on that thing you asked me but the second part is on its way, can be done real fast and I can easily make up for lost time "
"Why are we late? What's wrong?"
"We underestimated the effort needed. I told you I needed five days for this but you insisted on three."
"You have been doing this for so long, you should've avoided this in the first place. Tell me; what's wrong."
"But I just told--look, I can catch up on lost time. You just need to let me do--"
"NO, NO, NO. That's unacceptable. Tell me; what you could have done to avoid this."
"I told you I needed more time than you gave---I give up. Can I just go back to work? We're not getting anywhere."

Four days earlier...

"I need five days to do this."
"Why five days? You must show more confidence. Can't you do it in a day?"
"I can't do that. The scope is too big."
"C'mon. You must challenge yourself."
"I told you--I need five days."
"C'mon; do it in three."
"I really can't. That's too aggressive. I need five."
"NO, NO, NO. That's unacceptable. You must be able to do it in three."
"But..."

And he promptly walks off cutting further negotiation.

"I need to go to a meeting. I'll come back for your status after three days."


That's why I will avoid such kind of arguments. Black and white statement (such as e-mail) is necessary to "slap" a pushy guy like that. Usually, I will put out the details why I need X days and mark up the risk if I can't get the X days. If he can't accept it, I will print out the email, and "slap" that guy :P
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Re: what to do about the blame game

Postby sabaisabai » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 11:24 pm

movingtospore wrote:General question here...I've noticed, working here, whenever some kind of issue comes up, no matter how small, it degenerates into rounds and rounds of useless finger pointing. It only stops when I, the foreigner, step in and tell everyone to focus on the solution to the problem, no matter how minor. And that I could care less who's fault it is.

Takes up an awful lot of time and resolves nothing. What has me shaking my head is that the issues are usually so very minor. Not even issues really - just a small miscommunications etc that then get out of control because everyone gets pissy about it.

This isn't just a wind up - I'm wondering if anyone has figured out a better way to deal with this. I figure this is culturally ingrained, saving face etc etc, and isn't going to go away. But I would really love to find away to get the same team members to actually work as a team - and stop worrying about blame. When in reality nobody higher up cares, and repeatedly tells them that. Any ideas?

:???:


I think your post just explains the media and every opinion expressed about Singapore by Singaporeans.

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Postby Cath C » Mon, 17 Dec 2012 2:46 pm

I don't think this problem is unique to Singapore. Anyone who is even slightly insecure about their work performance (ie. almost all of us) will be tempted to duck for cover when things go wrong. I think the only way to true accountability is for people to feel secure that their boss will back them up when they make mistakes.

1. Hire confident people. I mean individuals who are truly deeply happy with who they are and what they have to offer. Not loud arrogance masquerading as confidence.
2. Be the type of team and company that attracts these people.
3. Build the confidence of your team. This happens one person at a time, when everyone feels valued for their individual contribution.
4. When something goes wrong, ask "how do we fix it", not, "who did this"?

All of this only works if the most senior managers really behave this way and reward that behaviour from their people. Otherwise, calls for accountability just become boring management rhetoric. As they say, the fish rots at the head.

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Postby phil30k » Sat, 22 Dec 2012 1:23 pm

Singapore used to be a British Colony and it still has a strong civil service mentality influenced by the industrial revolution. If that doesn't explain everything then I'll try again. :)

The boss knows how everything works. He sets up the work flow. He initiates the work. His team is set up below him managing portions of the work flow. Completed work comes out the other end.

Other types of set ups I've seen is a team with interactions based on social relationships. Here the boss doesn't have to know everything but he must KNOW everyone. Work flow and roles are relaxed.

Yet another is the visionary team working after an amorphous goal. Work initiation can come from anyone and the most engaging objective wins.

It's almost like the Parent Adult Child thingy.

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Postby Wen_XY » Sun, 23 Dec 2012 2:05 pm

Cath C wrote:I don't think this problem is unique to Singapore. Anyone who is even slightly insecure about their work performance (ie. almost all of us) will be tempted to duck for cover when things go wrong.


I've to agree with Cath, I use to think a lot of disfunctional behaviour was a Singaporean thing, or that it's more prevalent among Asians, but it's not.

When people have a preconceived idea of how things are, we're just looking for signs that validate our believes, while filtering everything else out.

One good example would be kiasu-ness, something that we automatically attribute to Singaporean culture and upbringing. Well then, you probably haven't seen Black Fridays in America -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DigiWS1YhxI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O6IMYSSs7c

OP, from your posts, people might assume that you have a superiority complex, that you think being a foreigner elevates you above the locals.

Let's not let the discussion deteriorate into an argument about race and nationality, instead you might want to talk about the individuals themselves, and how you can work towards improving the way they handle problems.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 23 Dec 2012 2:52 pm

Wen_XY, interesting comparison you make, or try to make to justify behaviors here. I refer to your comparing Kiasu-ness to America's Black Fridays.

That happens of a specific day or days, It used to be the George Washington's Birthday sale. But in Singapore, kiasu-ness pervades the mentality here from the moment they way up 24/7 every waking hour of their lives. A considerable difference I'd say, wouldn't you? Doesn't matter if it's just getting on that 1st bus in the morning, push, shove just to be on the bus before someone else and then block the aisle for everybody else. And, because you want to get off first you crowd around the door like maggots around an open wound or flies around a water buffalo's arse.

There is a problem here. One that is going to take several more generations to defeat, if at all. Hasn't happened in the 3 decades I've been here, but it's not for want of trying by the gahmen, unfortunately, Harry's social engineering experiments of the 70's & 80's has created scientifically and mathematically gifted people, but it's created them without any social graces whatsoever.

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Postby Brah » Sun, 23 Dec 2012 5:53 pm

Wen_XY wrote:
Cath C wrote:I don't think this problem is unique to Singapore. Anyone who is even slightly insecure about their work performance (ie. almost all of us) will be tempted to duck for cover when things go wrong.

I've to agree with Cath, I use to think a lot of disfunctional behaviour was a Singaporean thing, or that it's more prevalent among Asians, but it's not.

Hmmm...not sure I'd agree, or maybe I misunderstand your meaning.

One of my staff in Japan, his father offed himself because he was caught up in a nationwide scandal, and people in general there seem to look for excuses to apologize, often for things not even their fault. While falling over themselves to take fault for things is kinda dysfunctional, it's also the polar opposite from here, eh?

I think most people in most countries are generally upfront about being accountable for their misdeeds. I haven't seen that much here with the Singapore and Malaysian Chinese, and I do continue to see a lot to the contrary.

Wen_XY wrote:Let's not let the discussion deteriorate into an argument about race and nationality, instead you might want to talk about the individuals themselves, and how you can work towards improving the way they handle problems.

I think that is one of the better things I've read on this forum this week. I'd tend to agree with SMS that it's not likely to happen here anytime soon though, and his discounting of your kiasu comparison.


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