Blaming each other for large and small failures is one of the most hateful aspects of work place politics for most people. People blame each other, blame the boss or the subcontractor. For me the most puzzling aspect of the blame-game is still when professionals blame their clients for a failed or stumbling project.
Why do people blame the client so often?
It is obvious that blaming the client is bad for business. Professionals who do so (whether they are sales, production or customer service) will obviously be less motivated to provide solutions. Also, people feel when they are being blamed, and your client is no exception.
In fact, there are several obvious reasons why blaming the client is often the easiest way to cover up mistakes in an organization. Here are the top 5, and my suggestions about how to deal with them.
- The client is not there. In a company where people often blame the client, no one does it face-to-face. They will play the role of the scape goat who will take the blame because then-and-there they cannot defend themselves.
- The blame is difficult to verify. Even if the client made a mistake int he process, it is extremely difficult to prove that. After all, we provide service to them. Consequently, blaming the client becomes and easy way to get rid of responsibility people do not want.
- The client is an external party. Most managers are very sensitive to internal finger-pointing, which makes their people blame outsiders. The client will become an easy target.
- The client will not be fired. Most people are aware of the hurtful consequences of blaming someone else: They can be punished or even fired. This does not apply to the client, so they feel safer to blame them.
- The client is not an expert, well, at least not in your field. An IT technician can complain that the client has no idea about It, and of course he will be right: That is why the client needs the IT firm.
Of course, even though you have a hundred reasons to blame your client, it is still bad for your business. Make sure to minimize this behaviour. Here are e few ways how:
- Assume they are there. Voice complaints about the client only if they are fair and based on hard data. Some of your claims will be right, but about 70% will not pass this test.
- Realize that you are one team with your client. You are there to provide solutions for the client, not the other way around. Whenever one solution does not work (even that is the client’s fault), you are supposed to come up with another one, not the client.
- Calculate the risks. Assume that if you do not provide a solution, someone else will. Can you afford to lose that account? Will you do a better job with another client?
- Keep the focus on the client. Whether you are in sales, IT, law or medical technology, you are not there to make your client an expert – you are there to solve problems. Do not insist on showing all the ropes; put yourself in the client’s shoes and make sure you deliver a solution.