The Blurry Lines of Blame: Psychological Safety in the Workplace…

The Blurry Lines of Blame: Psychological Safety in the Workplace…

Guest writer Sonya Law is here to enlighten us again from the world of Human Resources with her latest blog post, “The Blurry Lines of Blame: Psychological Safety in the Workplace…”

“Be the leader that you wish you had, when we become a leader, it is important to remember the IMPACT that we have on others with our words and actions…” Sonya Law

Psychologically Safe workplaces take Ownership

We know that sinking feeling as a leader when something goes wrong in a team, or a mistake is made, especially when the impact on the business is significant.  In that moment it’s easy to assign the blame to someone, in order to direct the spotlight away from ourselves.  

However, this does not provide a psychologically safe environment for employees.  When we immediately pull the blame lever, it makes the employee feel small and powerless, its disempowering. 

Good leaders know about the blurry lines of blame. The better approach is to:

  1. Focus on the problem not the person
  2. Root cause the problem 
  3. Implement process improvements
  4. To stop the problem from reoccurring
  5. Involve the team who are responsible 
  6. EMPOWER the team to be part of the solution
  7. Transfer ownership to the team in a positive way.

The reason that blame is such a slippery slope is that it’s a toxic emotion.  We all have at some stage in our careers been on the receiving end of someone’s negativity.  The risk to the business is the employee feeling disempowered, disengaged and leaves the business adding to the staff turnover.  

It’s not about minimizing accountability it’s about taking a more considered, thoughtful and collaborative approach that produces better outcomes for the business.  When we tackle problems together, we ALL grow.

Positive, Innovative Cultures thrive

It also serves to provide a psychologically safe environment for employees and positive culture in which to thrive.  At a time when there is a talent shortage, it’s important part of the retention strategy that we are supporting employees to feel safe at work.

More importantly when you empower employees to be part of the solution it promotes innovation in the business.  

When we take this role as leader as coach and to role model positive behaviors around making mistakes it leads to improvement in critical thinking and problem solving.  Which are key business skills as we face an uncertain world and business environments. 

Happy employees are productive, open to learning and change

Happy employees are also more productive and likely to take on more complex work or stretch projects and set more challenging goals, when it feels safe to make mistakes.  They tend to be more open to learning new skills.  Leaders and businesses who role model a growth mindset and a curious mind, will have the competitive advantage when it comes to people, product, service and technology and respond better to change.  

Agile businesses position themselves well for Growth 

It’s important that businesses are agile, the ability to adapt and change leads to Growth in any business.  A leader who understands this will be able to attract top talent and have a collaborative work environment where the work gets done but they can also have fun and celebrate the wins along the way.

It leads to better outcomes for the business when you take care of people and take them along on the journey and GROW together.

“View every problem as an opportunity to GROW” Bill Marriott.

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