A cycle of blame can hurt any workplace environment, therefore, fostering a culture of accountability in the workplace is needed. In fact, according to an article published by the Harvard Business Review, “A deep set of research shows that people who blame others for their mistakes lose status, learn less, and perform worse relative to those who own up to their mistakes.
Research also shows that the same applies for organizations. Groups and organizations with a rampant culture of blame have a serious disadvantage when it comes to creativity, learning, innovation, and productive risk-taking,” (Fast, 2010).
What does this mean for your organization? It means that although there are times of failure, a leader has to oversee this and take it as a learning opportunity. It’s important to know that if an employee or team makes a mistake, there is always a reason as to why this mistake has occurred. Some reasons for this could be that there was not enough communication between team members or between employees and managers. Expectations may not have been set cleary and/or inadequate training may have been provided, etc. When there is a blame-free environment, teamwork and responsibility are shared and there is a willingness to acknowledge the part that the employee has played without fear of retribution.
If negative criticism is removed from the team and a supportive and trusting environment is created, meaning everyone involved can take responsibility for what went wrong, then behavioral changes within the whole organization can become long-lasting. Leaders must learn how to distinguish between blame and accountability because these can lay the groundwork for a culture that either works for them or against them.
Peagram Consulting has three accountability practices that can be used within any organization to help establish and foster a culture of accountability:
View problems as learning opportunities: Do not forget that everyone is still learning to do their jobs better. We learn from our mistakes and the creation of an environment for growth is important.
Focus on the solution to the problem, not the person: This helps create an open, transparent, and trusting workplace environment for all employees.
Be a leader: It’s easy to take responsibility when things go right in an organization, but what about when things go wrong? Take ownership for your team. Do not blame an individual, but step back and review what you could have done to possibly help your employees succeed in their tasks or jobs at hand.
Fast, N. J. (2010, May 13). How to stop the blame game. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved
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