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Survey: Three in 10 Executives Have Taken the Blame at Work for Something They Didn't Do

MENLO PARK, Calif., Sept. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Some professionals are "taking one for the team" at work, a new OfficeTeam survey suggests. Three in 10 (30 percent) senior managers interviewed said they have accepted the blame in the office for something that wasn't their fault. More than one-third (34 percent) who took the fall reported they did so because they felt indirectly responsible for the problem, while more than one-quarter (28 percent) revealed they just didn't want to get others in trouble.  

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.  

Managers were asked, "Have you ever taken the blame at work for something that wasn't your fault?" Their responses:







Managers who responded "yes" also were asked, "Which of the following best describes why you took the blame at work for something that wasn't your fault?" Their responses:

Felt indirectly responsible for the problem


Didn't want to get others in trouble


It was a minor infraction that wasn't worth arguing over


An explanation would have been more trouble than it was worth


Don't know/no answer




*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

"It's best to accept responsibility when you've made a mistake at work," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "However, sometimes professionals feel compelled to take the blame for something they didn't do. Depending on the infraction, being the scapegoat only hurts your own reputation." 

OfficeTeam offers five tips for navigating the blame game at work:

  1. Admit when you're wrong. It's better to acknowledge a mistake you've made than to try to deny it, cover things up or shift the blame. Others may find it easier to forgive and forget if you come clean from the get-go.
  2. Move on. When something goes wrong, don't get wrapped up in pointing fingers. Focus on what should be done to resolve the issue and avoid similar problems in the future.
  3. Don't always be the fall guy (or girl). It's understandable for employees to cover for a colleague from time to time, but try not to make a habit of it. The individual who made the error may continue to make mistakes, and you will be the one whose job could be at risk.  
  4. Keep everyone honest. Make sure expectations are clearly outlined for every project. Document each person's responsibilities and contributions so there's accountability.
  5. Give credit where it's due. Acknowledge colleagues for their accomplishments and call attention to group successes. Make sure you're also getting the recognition you deserve by providing status reports to your manager.


About OfficeTeam

OfficeTeam is the nation's leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

SOURCE OfficeTeam

For further information: Cynthia Kong, (650) 234-6298,