I was at an organisation last week when all the computers malfunctioned. It was chaotic to say the least. Everyone was out of their chairs stomping around. After a short while, everyone was trying to figure out who was to blame. There was a handy man fixing a floorboard and he became the target. When he pointed out there was no cables near the floorboard then the blame shifted to IT. IT told everyone that there was a notice that Smart Meters were soon to be installed. So the power company got inundated with angry calls.
I reckon I was there for an hour and it was difficult to believe how angry people were and how quick they were to jump to conclusions. I found out a few days later that the actual cause was an engineer who put in the wrong code. As soon as he entered the wrong code he knew he’d made a mistake. But because the culture of the organisation was a blame and intimidate culture, he wasn’t game enough to put his hand up.
So whose fault was it really. Any organisation that doesn’t make mistakes is doomed. I chatted to an organisation psychologist and she suggests that the real culprit is the “Senior Management Team”.
They should have removed the blame culture. By removing the blame culture, people would not feel the need to hide their mistakes. Here is a quick test for you.
When an error or mistake happens in your workplace, is the response whose fault was it?
Surely a better response would be how can we ensure this error does not re-occur?
My uncle worked for a large confectionery company in Dublin. When there was a production fault, he was often held to blame regardless of whether he was the cause or not. When he’d get upset he’d make sure the machinery didn’t work for days on end. Imagine how many more chocolate bars would have been produced if they didn’t blame my Uncle.