Avoiding the perils of toxic blame…

This week you’d need to have been living on Mars to escape the news of wholesome Brand Brangelina crumbling like a burnt cookie in the Great British Bake Off tent and the soggy bottom falling out of all their worlds.  And as the claims and counter-claims are flung like flans, irreparable damage has been done in a heated moment to two of the most talked about household brand names of recent times.

The ‘he said, she said, is (s)he staying, we are off’ debates will rumble on unabated for months with the opinionated Great British (and wider) public jumping to their own damning conclusions – if they hadn’t already done so within a few seconds of each news item hitting the social media dashboards. And the word most freely bandied around in all the on and offline discussions, as with any such parting of the ways, appears to be ‘blame’.

We’ve all done it – in our home lives when something has not worked out quite as we’d envisaged or in the workplace when a decision was, for whatever reason, not to our liking – we’ve been quick to find fault with someone and criticise their action, or lack of, which led to this unfortunate or unexpected outcome.

Positions are readily adopted, stances taken and views entrenched with the race on to gather as many people on your side in double-quick
time, often having heard, naturally, only one version of ‘the truth’. And from that point, there is only one direction the whole scenario is going – the wrong one.  Comments are misconstrued, incidents are exaggerated, language becomes harsher, or disappears completely, concerns about the behaviour of another, usually more senior figure, fester because of hierarchical constraints.

I could go on but I’m sure by now this is ringing true to anyone who has read this far. So, let’s press pause for a minute, take stock of the situation and rewind then play it all out again with a different mindset.

What if, from the outset, there was to be no blame apportioned in a scenario – only learnings? What if everyone was guaranteed an equal voice, regardless of age, gender or role?  Hard to imagine? Actually easy to implement. All it takes is a willingness to learn and commitment to abide by the principles.

The power of After Action Review is in its simplicity.

What did you expect from a situation, what was the actual outcome, why was there a gap and what are the learnings?

In business terms that means the apprentice who sees what (s)he perceives to be malpractice on the shop floor can legitimately challenge the situation with the company CEO; the young admin assistant can raise a concern with the director of finance and the fresh-faced beat bobby can have a full and frank discussion with the wily old police chief without fear of any repercussions as the exercise is conducted in a sterile environment within explicit parameters.

So if Brad and Angelina or Mary, Paul the BBC and Channel 4, are watching the gossip machines go into overdrive, while they sit privately seething and breaking up their brands, they would do well to call time-out, rein in the legal teams and take a collective deep breath as they exclaim: ‘iTS AAR time!‘ then maybe, just maybe, these two new unplanned bad comedy shows would not gain too much airtime.

iTS_Logo_Black_Pant376iTS-aar (After Action Review) is our powerful new development offering enabling teams, leaders and managers to rapidly extract “learning” from real life challenging situations and in doing so clarify their collective purpose and subsequent direction of travel. We help teams and companies build such a review mechanism into their daily business to foster a transparent learning environment from honest conversations and in doing avoid the creation and pitfalls of a toxic “blame” environment.

We would love to tell you more, so if you are interested simply get in touch today.

~Author: Jayne George

Have you been let down lately?

Old Walking BootsToday I had to replace my walking boots.

Those of you that love walking will understand the significance of this event.  As I finally discarded them there was a touch of sadness as I reflected on the thousands of miles we had walked together, over 4 continents and numerous countries. They were indeed my trusted travelling companions.

So had they never let me down?  Well unfortunately I cannot say that, as over the years there were several occasions when my feet had got a little wetter than I would have hoped! This, of course, was down to my own lack of investment in re-proofing them quite as often as I should have done!

This got me thinking about when other people apparently let us down and what part we may have to play in that. Did we invest enough time and effort in the relationship or situation to reduce the likelihood of us being let down?

bootsIt is so easy in life to point the finger at someone, but it is a useful reminder that when we do this, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves!

Similarly in our leadership:

Are we always clear with others about our expectations of them?

Do we provide sufficient direction, coaching, support, feedback and praise, to give our teams the best chance of meeting these expectations and therefore not ‘letting us down’?

I, for one, will certainly be investing more time in my new trusted companions in order to help them help me as we set off on our exciting adventures together.


~Author: Ursula Franklin