Blaming

Oct 20th, 2002 by Tony in QSM3

Perhaps the reason blaming is so popular among software engineering managers is the difficulty of the work, leading to a fear of losing control. Blaming is intended to provoke fear, and fear calls up survival rules and incongruent coping behaviour. The hope is that the preferred coping will be placating, so that the people attacked will do exactly what managers want.

This blaming approach might not be altogether bad if managers were perfect, so that all they needed was perfectly compliant employees. If you are perfect, you may consider employing this approach. Keep in mind, though, that not everybody prefers to placate in response to blame. Even if they don’t outwardly counterattack, or freeze, or go bezerk, remember that even the best placaters seem to have a finger of blame poised behind their back where you can’t see it. You’ll know it’s there only when you become aware of their malicious compliance, which may be too late. In the end, blaming causes you to lose the very control you crave.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 3, Chapter 5

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