Eliminating an Organizational Culture of Blame

According to businessdictionary.com, organizational culture is “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.” A company’s organizational culture does not develop in a day. Instead, it develops over time and is based on the values the company’s founders and its employees. (Robbins & Judge).

According to Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist and author of The Blame Game: How Hidden Rules of Credit and Blame Determine Our Success or Failure, many companies have a culture of widespread blaming. This problematic culture causes employees to play it safe — rather than take risks — and not try new ideas because of fear of blame. Dattner says that companies should replace blame with problem solving. Companies should focus on the future instead of focusing on what went wrong. Dattner, however, says that all great leaders accept blame. They “look in the mirror when things go wrong and out the window when things go right. If a leader isn’t self-reflective, the organization can’t adapt and evolve.”

Dattner thinks the toughest problems facing the workplace today are teamwork and getting people to sacrifice for the common good. People need to believe that they will be rewarded in order to take risks. If not, then they will focus on themselves.

For more information, check out the May 19, 2011, Wall Street Journal interview of Ben Dattner with Francesca Donner called “The Workplace Whodunit: Navigating a Culture of Blame“.


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