An important deadline is missed, a project falls through the cracks, a dissatisfied client lodges a complaint. And then the finger pointing begins.
If you've ever witnessed the blame game, you know that it's ever-so painful to watch.
It's also symptomatic of a toxic workplace in which no one comes out ahead, despite the successful deflection of blame and the abdication of responsibility.
This kind of work environment doesn't exactly inspire innovative thinking. Nor does it motivate employees to high performance.
Not to worry, there is a cure for eliminating the toxicity, and it all begins with establishing a strong corporate culture.
How to foster a strong corporate culture
Often a finger-pointing mentality is a reflection of a poor corporate culture or the lack of clearly articulated values within an organization. So, how do you foster a culture where the index fingers are withdrawn and are put to more productive use?
By being a company that clearly identifies corporate values, and by having a leadership team in place that actually leads by example.
Values drive the behavior that is desired or expected of employees. When an organization's cultural values are clearly defined, they act as a beacon for attracting employees who can help move the organization forward.
A strong talent management program explicitly supports this by translating values into specific competencies that reflect the behaviors that will help the organization to excel.
Cultivating organizational and job-specific competencies helps your organization and your employees succeed by helping to:
- Maintain a competitive advantage
- Align your workforce and develop a strong culture
- Foster employee high performance and success
- Align and direct your talent management programs
Use feedback to reinforce organizational values
Great managers understand their roles in reinforcing organizational values to employees and articulating how an employee's specific role supports the strategic objectives of the organization.
Mistakes, while not ideal, are sometimes unavoidable. Instead of pointing the finger, managers and their employees should be looking at the lessons behind them.
This means providing feedback on an ongoing basis, not just once or a few times a year. This approach ensures employees get the continual direction, feedback and development they need to improve and succeed. It may even bring a challenge or looming mistake to light so that appropriate action can be taken to mitigate it. Before its too late.
There is a strong correlation between feedback and employee engagement
In fact, research shows that managers who give little or no feedback to their workers fail to engage 98 percent of them - all the more reason for companies to foster a feedback-rich culture. What are some ways in which organizations can work toward this type of culture?
Two key ways come to mind:
Increase the frequency of employee reviews - Some companies find that building quarterly reviews into their performance management process helps to give managers and employees a regularly committed interval for dialogue and feedback.
Quarterly reviews don't need to be as long or as detailed as your annual performance review session; their goal is to provide a structured forum for giving employees feedback and for checking on progress.
Gather feedback from others - Feedback from multiple sources is broader and more objective, and helps both the manager and employee get a more accurate view of their performance. This can be as simple as requesting feedback from another manager or supervisor that the employee works with, or from a third-party who has knowledge of the employee's strengths and weaknesses.
Create a culture of accountability
Establishing a competency- and feedback-rich culture (one that includes cross-departmental feedback) supports employee accountability. Not only does it help change this "blame others" mentality, it also goes a long way to improving overall employee engagement and morale.
If you're interested in learning more about the what you can do to change up your organization's culture, why not check out our Center of Excellence on Competency Management.