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Avoid Blame to Find Solutions

Are you living in the risky land of should, where expectations are different from reality? Risk occurs when people who work together have different perceptions of the way things should be.

Common phrases include: “With eight years in the trade that person should have known how to do that.” Or, “I should be able to trust the plans and not have to check that drawing again before I started that task.” Shouldn’t statements apply as well, “Contractors shouldn’t ask us to bid the work so low.”

A Maryland contractor is facing OSHA fines because its safety director thought the field teams should be doing tool box talks, but didn’t follow through on whether they actually were occurring. When an accident occurred, the first thing OSHA asked for was the documented tool box talks.

Complaining about how something should or shouldn’t be leads to problems, not solutions. To break the habit, it’s best to stop using the words “should” or “shouldn’t” alltogether.

Think about what the situation is or identify the risk without judgment of what it should or shouldn’t be. Ask the relevant team members involved to find at least three possible solutions to the challenge. Asking for three possible solutions, even when you believe there is only one plausible solution, will lead to the best solution. The people with the best solutions are often those closest to the issues. Great ideas begin to flow when complaining about how things should be stops, and focusing on solutions begins.

Should statements look for someone to blame. Blame freezes creativity with the current issue and those in the future.  Accept the problem and deal with it, sooner rather than later.

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