The ‘Just Culture’ Concept

If somebody makes a mistake in your organisation, are they better off reporting it or covering it up?

According to E Tu NZ, a “Just Culture”  is one where it is understood that competent people make mistakes. In discussing this concept, the authors, James Reason and David Marx, urge us to distinguish between three types of behaviour – Human Error, At-Risk Behavior, and Recklessness:

  • Human Error: This is inadvertent. It is argued that the best response is not punishment but consolation.
  • At-Risk Behaviour: This arises from poor decision making, which suggests the need for coaching.
  • Recklessness: This involves consciously disregarding risk and calls for sanction.

To gain a clearer understanding of how this all fits with the development of an organisation’s safety culture, check out the E Tu workbook.

Evaluating behaviour fairly will help you develop a “Just Culture” and should lead to improved event reporting, so that the organisation can learn from errors and reduce risks and incidents. Unjust punishments will produce the opposite effect.

Unconvinced that you need to build a “Just Culture” within your workplace? It may help to know that large, leading organisations, such as Air New Zealand, Airways New Zealand, and Deloitte, are all running and support “Just Culture” workplaces within New Zealand.

If you have concerns or think you could build on what you currently have to create a workplace culture more in-line with a “Just Culture”, contact the team at Working Wise today.  We have plenty of advice and resources available, as well as short courses that we can run in your business to help support your workplace environment.

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