NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Should you take the blame for a screw-up at work not of your making?
It might give you some bonus points in the office for taking one for the team -- but it won't do much for your career.
Most likely, taking a bullet for a mistake-prone co-worker or manager also won't get you respect from either staffers or management. After all, bonuses, raises and promotions are tied directly to performance, and there are few better ways to calibrate performance than by counting mistakes made on the job.
So why do so many career professionals take the blame for a problem they didn't cause?The fact is, many do. survey from OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif., employee recruiting firm, three in 10 managers say they have taken the blame for someone else's mistake at work. Of that group, 34% said they felt "indirectly responsible" for the situation, while another 28% said they "didn't want to get others in trouble." But career momentum has a lot to do with respect, and staffers and managers who step up and take a hit for someone else's problem are likely squandering that respect. "It's best to accept responsibility when you've made a mistake at work," says 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." A big part of the problem, especially in toxic, Machiavellian offices where politics can trump performance, is that workplace mistakes are widely viewed as a zero-sum game. That is, if a problem arises, the offending party loses status, while non-offending parties may see their stock rise in the office.