Work Life: Changing a Culture of Blame

I recently relocated my family to Denver from the East Coast for a pretty significant promotion – significant enough for us to pack u and move 2,000 miles! While I fully expected a learning curve in my new position, I was not prepared for the “culture of blame” I was about to be submerged in.

I should start with what my leadership style is:

  • I believe in setting people up for success
    • Give them the tools they need to succeed
    • Show them how to do what is expected of them
    • Be available to answer questions and provide guidance (aka know how to do the job you expect them to do)
  • I believe in holding people accountable
    • Don’t let people continue to do something wrong or incorrectly. Provide constructive feedback so they can take corrective action
    • Set attainable goals
    • Monitor progress
  • Give praise
    • People like to know what they are doing well. Don’t bombard someone with only constructive feedback. Give praise when deserved
  • Don’t expect overnight change
    • If you step into a role where process and procedures have been not up to standard for quite some time, don’t expect to fix it all overnight
    • Set realistic goals
  • Communicate
    • Provide status updates to all involved
    • Manage up and down
    • Everyone likes to know what is going on, not just upper leadership

That, in a nutshell, is my personal leadership style. That is how I spent the prior 2 years leading people. What I walked into at my new gig was “so-and-so has no experience doing XYZ, they might not be good for that task”. “I don’t think so-and-so understands what they are doing”. “I’m tired of doing their work for them.”

OK….so teach them.

An almost uncomfortable conversation was had in the middle of the hallway in which I had to defend my new staff that I barely know against someone that was barraging them with negativity. I stood my ground on my leadership style and said (in my most professional way), “I believe that I can teach others how to excel in in their role in a way that will guide them to future success. I believe in giving people the tools they need to succeed, and I will do just that with this staff. I have been down this road before, it is not something that is unattainable.”

My philosophy was not appreciated but honestly, I didn’t care. I realized then that I now work in a culture of blame and I need to do what I can to change that culture. Some of my ideas for attaining this goal is:

  • Rounding
  • Sitting down with each individual and going over what their role is
  • Identify strengths and areas for improvement
  • Be available
  • Set standards and raise the bar over time

I have to be realistic that things won’t change overnight, but I’m optimistic for the future.

What are some of your ideas for improving a culture of blame?