By Gary, on March 22nd, 2014
This statement was drilled into me when I worked for my main client. It was on large posters hung on the walls of all of the conference, seminar, and meeting rooms.
“Stay Above the Line”
It was coupled with these statements: “It’s the relationship, stupid!” and “It’s better to learn from mistakes than to be told what to do.” “Stay above the line!”
There was a stock drawing that looked like a space ship headed to the moon. It had progressively smaller corrective moves until it arrived at the moon successfully.
This business philosophy is probably adopted by many corporations and business. They want their employees to understand that they can make mistakes but instead of being terminated or demoted, they can learn from them, correct their course and arrive successfully at the goal.
This is very good PR and makes the employees feel comfortable. This philosophy works great while the company is making money, has a great reputation and has work constantly appearing at their door. When the work starts to wane, somebody damages their reputation, or work stops coming in, the company then tends to drop this philosophy and starts to look around to “Blame” someone or something. Relationships are strained and things start to fall apart. Who can we blame? Who can we throw to the wolves to save our reputation? Who can we use as a scapegoat?
When blame is thrown around, unintended consequences happen.
This change in company philosophy creates a “witch hunt”. Morale suffers. Employees leave. Sub-contractors avoidance occurs. Clients vanish. Lives are ruined.
All of this may or may not kill a company. If it doesn’t, the company size and its community influence will definitely diminish.
Yes, there is a solution. It requires a positive attitude, personal and company discipline, a rigid backbone and perseverance. Resist the human tendency to sacrifice someone to save yourself. Learn from errors and mistakes. Do not throw blame around.