Falling on Your Sword

At work, how often do you take the blame for something in order to protect someone else?

I do it on occasion. When you have people working for you, it helps with morale if they see you standing up for them when mistakes are made. In the end, the supervisor is responsible for the actions of his/her employees.

Yesterday’s situation was a little different though. I fell on my sword to protect the boss. He was supposed to have reviewed, edited, and then provided a consultant that we are using some negative feedback about her job performance thus far.

The persons who had given me the negative comments were in attendance at this meeting, when the consultant announced that she had received only positive feedback regarding her work. There was a pause when one of the audience members, asked if she had received his feedback. Looks of confusion started circulating in the room, when I said I had spoken with several members of the board, but I had not given her (the consultant) the formatted comments yet.

Everyone looks at me and thinks moron. Sword enters; lights going dim.

With criminals, trying to take the blame to protect someone else happens regularly as well. This week in our town, an intoxicated couple were returning from a night on the town, and the wife drove the car off the road into a tree. Husband told the officers on the scene that he was driving, but witness reports and collision details allowed officers to quickly determine that his wife was the actual driver.

But, drunk driving is not the only crime that law breakers shift the blame. Motivations range from attention to mental illness—as in this case:

When Sean Hodgson told a prison chaplain in 1980 he had murdered a barmaid, he was lying. He subsequently spent nearly 30 years behind bars as an innocent man. So why do people make false confessions?

A conversation in a south London prison between a 30-year-old car thief and a Roman Catholic priest led to one of the UK's biggest miscarriages of justice.

The inmate Sean Hodgson told Father Frank Moran that he had killed Teresa de Simone, 22, when he found her sleeping in her car. He then told a prison officer and repeated the statement, verbally and in writing, to detectives investigating the case, also claiming responsibility for two other murders.

He withdrew the confession at his trial a year later, when he described himself as a "pathological liar" who confessed to countless crimes he had not committed.

But he was nevertheless convicted, with the help of scientific evidence that suggested his blood was of the same type as the attacker. Twenty-seven years later, DNA results have cleared Mr. Hodgson of any guilt...
As exhibited in the above crime example, unnecessarily shouldering the blame can result in one losing decades of your life. Perhaps, my little act of self sacrifice was ok as it did not result in serious repercussions. My boss did not even realize anything was wrong--a tremendous sacrifice goes unnoticed.

I am an advocate for employee performance evaluations showing the "frequency of falling on sword"—-I would exceed expectations ever quarter and those looks of sutpidity from others will at least mean some personnel reward.


mappchik said...

Well, it's not the same as appreciation from the boss, but I'm tipping my cup of coffee in recognition of your sacrifice.

Reminds me why I'm so glad I work freelance... oh, wait. That means I actually am always to blame. Maybe I should start counting the dog as my co-worker?

Slamdunk said...

Thanks--I'll take all the kindness I can get. And, yes, dogs probably make the best coworkers.