People want to do a good job. They really do! And doing a good job today means working in a safe-from-ridicule environment where we can learn from mistakes and look at them as opportunities to learn more about our processes in order to make them more trouble-free. It’s this kind of thinking that gets us into the parts per million defect range and beyond!
Our greatest fear is the fear of being humiliated. So it’s not surprising that folks hide their mistakes and avoid saying and doing unusual things so they won’t be ridiculed. And yet, these unusual things – and what we can learn from our mistakes – may be just what’s needed to solve a problem.
Everyone’s contribution is needed. We can’t tolerate the old thinking of looking for someone to blame. No-blame environments produce decreased problems, fewer defects, increased productivity, higher profits – and – more genuine employee involvement and ownership. In short, work becomes a more fun place as the focus switches to satisfying the customer by achieving results. A no-blame environment does not mean people aren’t accountable – far from it . . . they are more so. And proud of it!
Follow these key points to build and grow a no-blame environment:
- You build a “no-blame” environment every day – one conversation at a time. Use every conversation as an opportunity to build another’s self-esteem.
- Managers and workers are partners in the improvement process. They share facts daily through straight talk and generous listening.
- Mistakes are part of the “facts” in everyone’s work life. Use mistakes as opportunities for improvement – not vehicles for discipline.
- Emphasize fact finding, not fault finding. Fact-finders observe, listen, ask questions, reserve judgement, analyze and conclude the facts. They replace the words “I think …” with, “Here is what the data tells us …”
- Point fingers only at processes – not people.
- Managers are responsible for creating a safe-from-ridicule, no-blame environment of trust & integrity. Their role is to coach & lead by example.
- Workers are responsible for supporting & reinforcing the positive behaviors of fellow workers & management.