Three Duties, Five Behaviors

Unlike other models of workplace justice, we teach a “duty and breach” system of workplace justice.  It’s not about what we do after harm has occurred, but rather, how we hold each other accountable before harm has occurred. Think of the issue of speeding, drunk driving, or not signaling a lane change on the road.  We could wait until harm occurs, and then stand in judgement of those involved in the accident, or we could look to how we hold each other accountable for doing the right things to avoid the future accident.

Our model embraces what we believe to be the only three duties present in the workplace, or society as a whole.  These are the duty to produce outcomes (showing up to work, widgets produced per hour), the duty to follow procedural “how to” rules (parts assembly, hospital hand hygiene), and the duty to avoid causing unjustifiable risk or harm (drinking and driving, harassment).  In our model, we are each accountable for our conduct within each of these three classes of duty.  And how we are accountable is different based upon the nature of the duty.

Our model also embraces what we call the five behaviors, or more correctly, the five intentions.  Human error, at-risk behavior, reckless behavior, knowingly causing harm, and a purpose to harm.  Any model of Just Culture must address all five of these behaviors, from the simple human mistake, to the intention to do harm.  All of these will exist in the workplace, from accidents to discrimination, from a risky behavioral norm to inappropriate off-hours conduct.  If we can imagine it, managers are faced to address it sometime in their career.

Our model of Just Culture is simply the most compete, most legally-defensible model of workplace justice in existence.