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Positive company culture begins from the top down. The way business executives behave trickles down to middle management, which trickles down to the company’s front line staff. Research shows that a toxic company culture can (and will) negatively affect your business’s productivity, employee retention and bottom line.

One of the most common detriments to a positive company culture is blame culture in the workplace. If you’re a manager wondering how to empower employees, the first step is to identify and eliminate any blame tactics from your leadership style.

The first step to achieving this is knowing exactly what blame culture looks like. The second step is to foster a culture of accountability in its place. Today’s article lays out both steps, so you can successfully remove any blame from your management processes.

Identifying blame culture in the workplace

If you’re a company leader and you can’t distinguish between “blame” and “accountability,” there’s a good chance you’re creating a culture based on blame. Blame refers to holding a single person (or team) accountable for why something went wrong.

You can tell blame culture is present when one team member (or group) is singled out for doing something wrong. Instead of blaming processes, leadership blames people. This creates a culture of hiding mistakes, rather than learning from them.

The major difference is that blame is holding someone responsible for what went wrong. Accountability, on the other hand, is assigning responsibility to a certain person. Accountability is a much more positive action because, rather than attacking someone for past actions, it focuses on the individual’s power over the future.

If you’ve ever put someone at fault for something that went wrong in your business, chances are you’re guilty of creating blame culture in the workplace. Below are a few tips for counteracting this toxic management style by establishing a culture of accountability.

How to empower employees through accountability:

Learn to delegate

If you don’t provide your team with clear expectations, there’s more room for error. Effectively delegating means thoroughly communicating with your team about the expected results, providing them whatever resources they need to achieve those results, then checking in on progress regularly and providing feedback.

The blame game begins when things don’t go as planned. Avoid hiccups by clearly defining expectations and checking in on them along the way, while at the same time trusting employees to get the job done without micromanaging.

Celebrate mistakes

As mentioned earlier, it helps to see failures as learning opportunities. When blame is the primary driver of your business, your team will spend more time trying to cover up their mistakes than learning from them. A positive company culture never blames one person for what went wrong, but looks at where the system broke down.

Eliminate emotion

Emotions can run high when things go wrong, but as a leader, it’s up to you to maintain positive energy. Otherwise, negativity will trickle down to every single member of your team.

Feedback with emotion quickly becomes blame. Practical feedback with logical steps for change, on the other hand, becomes invaluable guidance.

Don’t be the winner, be a leader

Blame culture in the workplace often comes from insecure leaders looking to deflect from their own mistakes. By blaming someone else for what went wrong, you don’t have to take accountability for your own poor leadership.

As a leader, it’s okay, even inevitable, to make mistakes. By accepting that you are part of each problem, you’re better equipped to avoid the same problem in the future, and that kind of self-introspection trickles down. If everyone on the team asks, “What could I have done better?” there’s a good chance that next time, everyone will do better.

Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software

If you’re wondering how to empower employees, accountability is your secret weapon across the board. Leading based on accountability, rather than blame, will create a learning-oriented, productivity-boosting and profit-driving culture – and may even foster agility along the way.


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