How to prevent blame culture at work

Published by Elaine Gallagher on

How to prevent blame culture at work

Table of contents

A blame culture at work can be detrimental to performance, damaging to employees’ mental health and an issue that stifles the growth of your company. In fairness, no company ever sets out to create a culture of blame at work. Like all bad habits, blame culture can slowly creep into a company culture and possibly poison it. 

The best defence is education. Education of the management team and rank and file employees. But education isn’t just a one-off. It must be an ongoing process to craft a positive work environment and culture. 

A key insight from behavioural science is the visibility of champions exhibiting the behaviour you wish the organisation to replicate. These champions can be a key component for creating real workplace culture change. Ultimately, a culture is created by people, and they need good influences.

An oft-quoted study conducted by Roy F. Baumeister, Ellen Bratslavsky and others called “Bad is Stronger” found that human beings remember negative experiences more than positive ones. Their conclusion was,  “Good can only match or overcome bad by the strength of numbers.”

In workplace terms, you need a lot of good experiences to overcome just a few bad ones at work. This means that you need to invest in training and building a positive workplace culture from day one to stop the negative before it starts. 

Every new hire that’s onboarded is an opportunity to establish good organisational habits. This is useful to demonstrate and communicate expectations to existing staff, as well as having a positive influence on the workforce. In behavioural science, this is often called “the fresh start” effect.

Blame culture prevention begins with you

In order to prevent blame culture at work, you need to understand how it happens and how it grows.  Blame culture can resemble a domino effect. If someone is affected by it, they will in turn do it to the person below them. This makes it a sort of chain reaction, which is why senior leaders exhibiting the right behaviours is so important. 

Often a few moments of frustration from yourself or another senior member in the company can spiral into something bigger. If you take part in the negative blaming behaviour, your employees are more likely to engage in it too. As mentioned earlier, it takes a lot of good experiences to outweigh one bad experience, so it’s critical that you set a good example and always treat your team with respect and fairness.  

The second step is raising awareness of blame culture at work. This is best achieved through training and open communication. Employees need help to learn how to identify any behaviours associated with blame culture, so they can negate those behaviours. However, it’s also important not to over exaggerate the scale of a potential blame culture when dealing with employees. Unfortunately, this can sometimes have the opposite effect, and make one more likely to occur. 

No company has an immediate, and constant, positive culture without any effort. To achieve a positive company culture in which your employees thrive, you have to provide them with effective training. Your training methods should provide them with every opportunity to identify blame culture, and prevent it.

supportive team around table at work, behind blurred glass windows

Employee training prevents blame culture at work

Training that prevents blame culture, will involve changing employee behaviour. Your training programmes need to push against the social norms within the workplace, and highlight the actions of change champions. Those exhibiting good behaviours should be used to influence the remaining teams.

Through effective training, you can help employees learn how to change negative behaviours and replace them with positive ones. Training should help your workforce to learn to foster a new culture of the right behaviours, by helping then learn how to respond to setbacks and develop resilience. 

However, training for company culture is challenging because it requires training solutions that allow for engagement, not just normal run of the mill training. This is where solutions like digital experiences can play a role. 

Digital experiences are scenario-based digital training that allows the users to feel as if they ‘live’ through different scenarios. This means they can, for example, think about how their behaviour might make someone else feel. 

supportive team of people around table at work

At BAD, we know behavioural science and we know how to implement innovative digital technologies. We can help you build impactful employee training strategies for your company. Ensure that your company is blame culture-free, with happy and productive employees. 

Get in touch today to find out more on how to prevent blame culture in the workplace.

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