In my career as a professional fight director, I found it imperative to foster what I call a “No Fault No Guilt” work environment. The concepts of fault or guilt are ego-based reactions that do not resolve the problem at hand. In fact, delving into fault or guilt when a solution is what is needed, is simply a waste of time. Imagine two actors working on a theatrical fist fight when one throws a punch too high and almost hits the other. If the one who was almost hit, gets angry, and reacts accordingly, he will first throw a fault statement like,” Hey you almost hit me!” The natural response to this statement is to become defensive rather than admit guilt or fault. No time is being wasted. If instead the first one said,” Hey that last punch looked a little high can we look at that again?” then the reaction would be thwarted and they could quickly resolve the problem.
The example above is a blatent example of the idea of how a “No Fault No Guilt” work culture increases productivity. How does this translate into the average workplace? While working as the Entertainment Director of regional theme park, I walked into the office one afternoon into the middle of a screaming match. Between the owner of the park and one of my top performers. I think you will agree that this is not an ideal situation for a middle management person to walk into. It seems the performer's tsocial security forms were not filled out properly and the IRS had instructed the owner to hold back thirty percent of the performer's pay. The owner had just handed him his check and the argument ensued. Each blaming the other for the situation.
Hearing the argument and getting the information about what had happened from the book keeper, I knew I had to remove fault and guilt from the situation and offer a solution. “ Gentlemen, I am really sorry this is my fault.” I said. Instantly the argument stopped. “ If I had been more thorough in my paperwork, I would have caught this sooner and we wouldn't be having this issue I apologize.” By taking the fault and admitting guilt they no longer had anything to argue about. Now it was simply information about an issue that needed a solution. I turned to the owner,” Since we pay him in two payments, can we give him his full pay today and take the thirty percent from his final check?” He responded that we could. I turned to the performer,” your going to get your full check today that gives us a couple weeks to resolve this issue.” Everyone was satisfied and the issue was resolved.” The told the performer I would drive him to social security the next day and get it solved and at 8am I was there to pick him up true to my word.
Often when I talk about the “No Fault No Guilt” approach I get pushback about accountability. I am not saying situations have to be assessed a productivity issues do not need to be addressed. Of course if someone is consistently not performing and need to be let go, then let them go. I am saying that emotional ego-trips that waste time directly effect the bottom line as much if not more than any issue that might come up. Treat it all as information, offer productive solutions without getting personal and foster that work culture for a better return.