Eliminating a culture of blame

"Is your organisation emotionally charged because it suffers from a culture of blame? Do you feel like you have lost control of your staff? Discover today one of the best tools for effective staff management!"

"A great workplace culture is integral to the success of your organisation". Yes that's right – that touchy feely area that many of us don't really understand might be the mystery ingredient you are missing to build a truly great organisation.

In this article we will look at the number one problem in most organisations today – that is a "culture of blame" and what you can do to change this culture so that your organisation can focus on the important areas that contribute to success.

So why does a culture of blame run rampant through some organisations?

Sometimes it results from bullying leaders who create a culture of fear. Sometimes it results from a "good news" culture which is created when the leader is only interested in hearing good news. In such organisations staff tend to shy away from passing on bad news because it is common practice to "shoot the messenger".

How does a culture of blame impact an organisation?

1. Blame has an emotional context. Cultures of blames usually operate with emotions of fear, anger and resentment which create dysfunctional relationships and poor staff morale.

2. Blame shifts energy and focus. As a result of fear-based emotions linked to blame, staff shift their energies from the interest of the group towards self-preservation.

3. Blame creates biases. As mental energies shift to defending one's own position, biases are introduced that alter the accurate perception and assessment of situations.

4. Blame inhibits creativity. When blame is prevalent, fear exists and individuals tend not to take risks or to think creatively, favouring instead the avoidance of blame.

5. Blame is expensive. Blame has very real costs to an organisation via poor quality, service failures and lost customers. In addition, poor staff morale and high staff turnover add increasing costs to the business via recruitment and training. Finally, the lost opportunity costs of low innovation, inability to create better products, quality and service will lead to a substantial negative impact on the revenue streams of the organisation.

Playing above or below the line – a model for managing cultures of blame

What is playing below the line? In an organisation whenever you find people deflecting attention from the real issue either by pointing the finger and/or looking to blame others – then we have someone playing below the line. Blame, excuses and denial become the norm and this in turn negatively affects workplace culture.

Below the line behaviours: blame, excuses and denial.

What is playing above the line? This involves staff in an organisation accepting responsibility for their actions and behaviours. Once all people in your organisation (especially leaders) start living and breathing the principles of ownership, accountability and responsibility a positive culture is created.

Above the line behaviours: ownership, accountability and responsibility.

Playing above the line is not easy, but it is very rewarding and empowering. This is because we grow-up (start displaying adult behaviour) and we get to experience the power of our choices and our actions, and we are no longer "think and feel" we are helpless victims.

Here is an example to illustrate the difference between playing above or below the line. An employee arrives at work and says "I am late because I got caught in a traffic jam". Now the traffic jam could have been due to an accident that no one could have predicted. Below the line language would be: "I am sorry I have kept you waiting. I got caught in this terrible traffic jam...." and go on and on with the story justifying your lateness. Above the line language would be: "I am late and I apologise for keeping you waiting". Here the individual demonstrates ownership and takes responsibility for being late and its impact. The reasons for lateness are not important.

Ways of eliminating a culture of blame

The elimination of blame from the culture of an organisation can be a complex and slow process, but here are a few practical tips that might help.

  1. Share your mission with the team and clearly define the role each person plays in achieving the big picture.
  2. Have a values, behaviours and process focus instead of blaming people.
  3. Use effective communication techniques which consider other perspectives and check assumptions before reacting.
  4. Use the playing above or below the line model and make sure everyone in the organisation (especially leaders) are accountable.

When leaders focus on values, behaviours, processes, sharing purpose and communicating effectively - blame based behaviours gradually lessen over time. Most importantly, trust among team members is enhanced and staff can begin focusing on improving organisational processes and achieving outcomes.

To get the best results for your organisation, you have to get the best out of your people and your human resource management processes will greatly assist in maximising the benefits to your organisation.

If you are worried your organisation suffers from a culture of blame or you would like some perspective about the culture that is really taking place in your organisation, call us. The quicker you take action – the quicker one of our business coaches or consultants can help develop practical solutions to improve your staff management and workplace culture.

Understanding employee engagement


Are your employees feeling appreciated? Do you and your managers understand what motivates your people? Is your organisation stingy when it comes to rewarding your people?

A number of recent surveys of employees working in SMEs have highlighted some key points about employee engagement. Here are some of the results:

  • 62 percent of employees have rated their managers as "Very Poor", "Poor" or just "Satisfactory" at delivering specific and timely praise.
  • 52 percent of employees say not receiving any recognition would be a contributing factor in their decision to leave their organisation.
  • 40 percent of employees are actively considering leaving their current employer.

So what does it take to keep your good employees happy?

Broadly there are three factors (desire, cost and obligation) which influence an employee's level of engagement at work.

An employee's desire to engage is based on their level of emotional attachment to the organisation. If a staff member can personally identify and align with the vision and goals of the organisation they will feel engaged in their role and provide products and/or services to clients in the best way possible. These employees can be further engaged by positive feedback, career advancement and training and development.

The costs of leaving from an organisation might be viewed as being harmful to an employee. In other words, an employee thinks that by leaving, they may lose their friends/colleagues, high paying salary, bonuses, accrued leave, etc. Staff incentives such as long service leave or flexibility in working arrangements can help engage these staff members.

Some employees feel engaged through a sense of obligation to the organisation. This happens when employees feel a level of indebtedness. In other words – they are engaged because they 'ought to be'. Offering ongoing training and development programs and personalised bonus structures can help engage these staff members.

If you are worried your organisation suffers from an employee engagement problem or you'd like some perspective about what's really taking place in your organisation, pick up the phone and contact us now to take advantage of our FREE initial consultation.

Conflict in the workplace - do you know what to do?

Everyone has experienced conflict in the workplace; however, few people are able to escape its fallout. And while no office is immune to conflict, how we manage conflict can make an enormous difference to the outcome(s), the impact on others and workplace culture.

  • So, as leader, what do you do about workplace conflict?
  • Are you even aware it is happening?
  • Do you actively identify when it is starting to affect work place morale and productivity?
  • Do you get caught up in the middle of the conflict?
  • Or do you do nothing, hoping the people involved will eventually sort it out themselves, or leave?

As a leader in your organisation, you are responsible for creating a workplace environment that achieves productive outcomes, values the individual and encourages sharing between team members. Leaders are also responsible for mediating conflict in their teams even though many leaders aren't comfortable with this, or simply don't have the skills or training to know how to manage and resolve these situations.

Possible sources of conflict include:

  1. personality differences
  2. disagreements about goals and objectives , or
  3. vastly different work practices and behviours, to name but a few.


Conflict in the workplace doesn't just affect the people at the centre of the conflict, rather disagreements and tensions can affect the whole office, creating an environment of discomfort, fear, unhappiness and negativity. This consumes the workplace and affects individual and team morale, productivity and delivery of work, and increases the risk of litigation, if not well-managed.

Avoiding the issue will result in rising tensions. Issues (perceived or actual) will grow commensurate with the growing resentment. As is often the case with built-up resentment, this may conclude in an outpouring of this resentment that is highly emotional and inappropriate, and often at the worst possible time, i.e. in moments of high pressure and stress, looming deadlines or difficult project circumstances.

Getting caught in the middle of the conflict can have equally damaging results. Your ability to be impartial becomes more and more compromised as you become the 'confidante' to the affected parties. Your ability to mediate the situation can be viewed mistrustfully by those affected, as your involvement may be construed as promoting your own agenda in the resolution process. High personal involvement in the conflict may also take its toll on your own personal wellbeing as you get caught-up in the negativity and emotion of the situation.

  • So, how do you manage conflict effectively?

The following steps can help you manage situations that could otherwise cause damage to your team and your organisation.

1. Identify the conflict early

Early intervention will mitigate the potential fallout from the conflict. Your ability to identify the conflict may rely on your ability to read non-verbal cues such as body language and identify who is involved. And, sometimes, it can be as basic as actually acknowledging it is occurring - not hoping it will just go away.

2. Meet with the participants together

Holding separate meetings with the people involved can affect your impartiality, expose you to highly emotional outbursts and compromise your ability to manage the situation without impacting on the rest of the team. Meeting with the participants together demonstrates your commitment to a fair resolution that doesn't take sides.

3. Clearly outline the issue

Ask the participants to outline their issue factually and without any additional emotion or making any personal attacks. The objective here is to ensure each part gets their turn to talk and that each person understands the other.

4. Negotiate outcome(s)

Then ask participants to identify what they see as the solution. This is the starting point for the negotiation, where you will be looked upon to help reach a fair and equitable outcome if the participants are unable to reach agreements themselves. In this instance, you will need to drive the setting of agreed outcomes, as well as establishing review timeframes.

5. Monitor the situation

The hard work isn't done once the meeting is over. You will need to monitor the agreed outcomes, and ensure they are being met. You may need to meet again with the relevant parties.

As a leader, understand that you may only be able to progress the situation so far, and that you may need to involve your HR team or the services of a specialist mediator to get the best outcome. However, mediating conflict resolution is a skill that is vital in your managerial tool kit. While you will never eliminate conflict in the workplace, effective and early intervention can stop disagreements escalating and the dispute impacting on the people around you. If you don't have the right skills, training and/or coaching can assist you.

  • Do you know what to do?
  • What will resolving conflict do for you and your organisation?

If you are worried about conflict in your organisation or you'd like some perspective about what's really taking place in your organisation, call us. The quicker you take action – the quicker one of our business coaches and consultants can help you develop practical strategies to make the necessary improvements in your organisation.

Why use a Business Coach

"A business coach can help identify the ISSUES in your business and provide practical SOLUTIONS so that you can reach your business goals faster"

Do you want to boost your business performance? Do you seek to gain more control of your business? Are you open to ways of improving your business?

During this article you are going to discover the benefits engaging a business coach can bring to your business.

Most businesses are started or purchased by people who are good at what they do. Unfortunately, many of the courses and practical experiences that have helped people become a great dentist, lawyer, graphic designer, etc have NOT equipped them with the essential knowledge and skills to run and build a thriving business. Often the business experiences come from hard-fought first-hand lessons, which can be both costly and stressful for the business owner.

Sometimes business owners get swamped by all the tasks of running a business, which causes them to lose focus and feel overwhelmed by problems such as:

  • A lack of purpose;
  • Fluctuating sales;
  • Inconsistent cash flow;
  • Inadequate profit and
  • Staff management.

Businesses who suffer from any of the above issues can benefit from the services of a business coach. However, some people think that only a struggling business would engage a business coach. The reality is that many successful businesses use business coaches as their secret weapon.

What is a business coach? Every great athlete is surrounded by coaches, mentors and advisors. Therefore in a business context, think of a business coach as a mentor or advisor who can help you set goals, implement strategies and track your progress so that you can reach your goals in the shortest possible time. You also benefit from a non-emotional objective view of your business and their experience in handling a vast range of situations.

Business coaches represent a great investment when you consider the financial return and other benefits of their advice. Starting from as little as a few hundred dollars per month, a business coach can help you:

  • Increase your marketing effectiveness and sales conversion to grow your revenue.
  • Improve your expense management and grow your profitability.
  • Increase the level of customer satisfaction which can fuel your word-of-mouth promotion and ensure ongoing revenue for your business.
  • Attract, manage and retain quality staff.
  • Create efficient and effective processes and systems which will result in a smooth operation.
  • Develop control reporting systems so that you gain feedback about your business performance.

In addition a business coach can help you:

  • Clarify your vision and purpose
  • Solve your business problems or frustrations
  • Identify and take advantage of opportunities
  • Navigate through a changing market or economy
  • Develop and refine your ideas
  • Become more accountable
  • Design a plan of action
  • Communicate more clearly and confidently
  • Become a more effective leader

Click on the video below to hear one of our clients talk about the experience of using a business coach.

Business coaches won't work for everyone! Typically clients who get the most out of the process are:

  1. Ready mentally, physically and emotionally for change;
  2. Are willing to make the financial investment and
  3. Are 100% committed to achieving a great result.

If you are worried about an aspect of your business or you would like an objective view of how you are performing or you would like to take your business to the next level, contact us. If you are ready to take action, contact us and one of our business coaches will contact you.

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