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The blame game ...

Being a manager is an interesting thing. I am at the bizarre level of middle management where the entire public entomology staff at the museum is my responsibility but I am still heavily supervised by my boss - the director of the museum.

The end result is that the majority of the blame for when things go wrong lands on my shoulders. If someone is untrained (or acts that way regardless of what I do), people are uniformed (for whatever reason), or there is any level of unhappiness - it is my fault. I say this with a smile but in truth I don't jest. It IS my responsibility to make sure people are trained, informed, and happy and I take that responsibility very seriously. I am kind of the "Mom" of our staff (which is especially amusing considering the majority of them are older than me).

It has become really easy to simply take the blame for the majority of the things that happen. However, it is an interesting shift in my personality to do so without much rebellion. I remember years ago while managing a science store suffering much the same role in work and becoming rather insubordinate due to the fact. Since then I have reveled in not being the one the higher ups look to and, in truth, I still am rather below the radar. Jayme gets the majority of the credit for the things that go well at the museum. He isn't one to steal credit and the few times I have noticed him inadvertently doing so I believe that it was truly unintentional. He is happy with my work and I am happy with my place there (or I will be once they drop the "assistant" part).

One interesting thing I have noticed that happens when you consistently volunteer to take the blame for things is that people are less likely to place it on you and more inclined to share it. This wasn't my intention when I picked up this habit but I find myself amused by its occurrence. It makes sense though - when you try to blame others they become defensive but people are more inclined to share blame especially if it is a very non-hostile situation.

I am also amused by the reaction to my staff. They often "handle" me. When a situation arises they attempt to approach me in a way that will limit my stress and distress over the subject. I often get a hurried "it's nothing bad" whenever people come to me to schedule a meeting. I love my staff ... I really do. I have such amazing and diverse people working for me. I wish I could be more on a "friend" level with them though I realize that is made hard due to my position. I do feel very lucky to know them and work with them though. I can honestly say that I love nearly every aspect of my job ... even though everything wrong tends to be my fault!! *grin*

There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.

~Oscar Wilde~

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