“It’s Not My Fault”. Tips for Communicating with Employees

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“It’s Not My Fault”. Tips for Communicating with Employees

The phrase “it’s not my fault” is probably the most despised statement a manager hears. It’s even worse when it really isthe employee’s fault.


Staff need to be personally responsible for their work. This comes naturally with some employees, while others need to be taught accountability. It doesn’t have to be a big complicated task. In fact, if handled properly, an employee will learn from their mistake and start taking responsibility immediately. This article will help improve communication between you and your team, so you can trust and rely on them consistently.



There’s a fine line that managers need to tread between being a good, friendly boss… but not being a friend. This can be especially tough for employees promoted from within. It can be wonderful for morale and productivity to promote from within, but confusing for the new manager.


Managers need to be objective, treating their employees fairly. For example, if a manager goes to lunch on a regular basis with one employee, he/she should include other staff so they’re not playing favourites. When staff feel relationships in the office are unbalanced, they’re less likely to come to you when there’s a problem or own up to a mistake.



Whether it’s procrastination or outright avoidance, people sometimes think that problems will go away on their own. Managers need to stay on top of issues to ensure they’re dealt with immediately. This means creating a space where your staff feel they can come to you with any question or concern.


When assigning a project to an employee, especially if they have a history of dodging responsibility, let them know that you’re trusting them with it. By telling them this, an employee often feels empowered, which naturally boosts their confidence and the accountability they feel while working. This is a positive way to reinforce the importance of responsibility.



Perhaps the only time when “it’s not my fault” is a valid response, is when a manager didn’t return a message. Not only does a lack of correspondence make a current problem worse, it teaches the employee that they can’t come to you.


As we learned earlier, in order to increase the accountability they accept, an employee needs to feel like they can reach out to you. Nothing says “leave me alone” quite like a backlog of unreturned email and voicemail.



Inspire your team’s behaviour by showing them how it’s done. Taking responsibility yourself and not passing blame on to others will help build respect. They’ll also see firsthand that it’s OK to make mistakes and are likely to come to you at the beginning of a problem.


Building a workspace where employees feel they can openly communicate and grow takes time. Be patient with your team and keep reinforcing the behaviour through positive examples. In the end it’s worth the effort; the organization will see more success and you’ll stop hearing the dreaded “it’s not my fault”.

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