How a blame culture ruins companies – and how to stop it

They say that a fish rots from the head. So too with a company’s culture – it can take just one rotten leader to putrefy an entire organization.

So, what causes the rot and what can you do to stop it?

Kicking downwards

Take a blame culture, where a boss blames their staff for any failings, whether it’s their fault or not. Yelling “It’s your area and so your fault, so fix it!” will only encourage the people below to keep blaming downwards, until ‘... the office boy kicks the cat.’

Stopping the rot

In a 2010 study entitled “Blame contagion: The automatic transmission of self-serving attributions”, Nathanial Fast at USC and Larissa Tiedens at Stanford Business School revealed how “blame-throwing” spreads through companies like the most contagious of diseases.

But there was a twist...

Sharing responsibility, not pointing fingers

Sharing responsibility and dealing with errors constructively is the key. By having a true leader, employees will feel encouraged to think creatively, speak out, and help ensure that such mistakes never happen again – much better than cowing employees so they’re tempted to hide their mistakes instead.

“If you don’t have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers.”

Roger Staubach

Read the complete article here.


Marie Downes Picture

Marie Downes

HR Head,
Adaptive Financial Consulting


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