Take the blame, it’s okay


We’ve all said (or heard) the phrase, “it’s not my fault”, which is an effort to shift blame or negative attention to someone or something else. Ultimately we think it is going to get us off the hook and make the person we are talking to feel better about us, but maybe not the situation. We had one such experience when visiting a relatively new establishment in San Antonio.

The place in question had a cool vibe.  Sort of a neighborhood pub with music and a theme that ties to local history and lore. The building itself had been there for many moons, however the staff, in particular the manager, was clearly new and still learning.

Now, I am all about learning, and when the manager came, announced himself as the manager, and said to be patient because they are still learning, I can appreciate that. I’m ready to give the guy some slack. Until…

There was, inevitably, a mix up in one of the orders, and one person in our party of 10 didn’t get his food at the same time everyone else did. The explanation was:

“One of the bartenders took your burger for a customer at the bar. They are making you another one, but the cook is taking awhile. Sorry, it wasn’t my fault, nothing I can do about it.”

Really?  Aren’t you the manager?  Or is that just a title with no real authority, or do you not know what you can and can’t do?

Either way, my beef isn’t with the mistake or the company’s org structure, it’s with the managers response and attempt to blame the bartender, cook, and anyone else he can throw under the bus.

I have a long held belief that as a leader, everything is your fault. Meaning, whatever happens at your facility, you are responsible for it in some way. Did this guy take my friends burger to the wrong customer?  No. However if he were really thinking that he was responsible for everything (as the manager), he wouldn’t have tried to discredit the rest of his staff. In fact, if he had just said hey, we screwed up and we’ll have another burger out here as quick as we can, I wouldn’t even be writing this post. But he didn’t.

Why is this important, especially in the hospitality field?  For starters, things are going to go wrong. It’s a fact. And at some point you are going to have to apologize to your guests because of something someone else did. At that point, the main thing your guest is looking for is acknowledgement of their experience. You are sorry. You will take care of it. You will make sure it doesn’t happen again. They don’t want excuses, they want results and to be listened to.

Secondly, how you react to these situations will come back to your employees. If you think about trying to save face in front of your customers, then you will likely take that feeling of embarrassment back to your employees and read them the riot act. Do they deserve that? Probably not. Did the bartender make an honest mistake?  Quite possibly, so if instead you look at this as a learning opportunity (especially in a new establishment) rather than something that needs to be punished, the likelihood of that employee being open to the discussion is much greater.

So go ahead, take the blame. It’s all your fault, anyway. :o)

2 thoughts on “Take the blame, it’s okay

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