Motivational Interviewing: a technique for leaders building a restorative, just and learning culture

Today as I pounded the rubber on the treadmill I was listening to the PROTECT podcast with Dr Manaan Kar Ray. It was a discussion about motivational interviewing with Dr Stan Steindl, an Australian clinical psychologist. It had some interesting and relevant information which I think can be applied to those wanting to build a restorative just culture within their workplace.

The podcast episode is released each Friday and covers learning from the PROTECT program, a clinically based suicide prevention program developed by Dr Kar Ray. Of course, because the podcast is about the PROTECT program the conversation focused on the interaction between a clinician and a person who is seeking help for suicidal behaviours. With a bit of lateral thinking though I could see its applicability to restorative, just culture.


What sparked my interest was the importance of listening to understand. Having a quiet presence. Listening to hear what is being said. Reflecting to confirm what has been said. This made me think about those three important questions that are the foundation of restorative just culture:

What happened?


Who has been hurt?


Whose obligation is it to meet the needs of those who have been hurt.


So, the context is different but the skills you would be wanting to develop seem to me to be highly applicable. Why this captured my imagination was because I am preparing to work with Professor Sidney Dekker on designing a program to support organisational leaders build a restorative just culture.


Imagine for a moment that an adverse event has happened in your organisation. You could ask just one question – “What happened?” - and then adopt quiet presence. Allow those involved in the incident to speak openly and explain why decisions were made, when they were made and any other mitigating factors that could help remove, or minimise, hindsight bias - which comes from knowing the outcome of an adverse event.


Quiet presence is not my natural behaviour. I am a dive in to help type of person, but this did make sense to me and I could see its applicability to the principles of restorative, just and learning culture. And it did more than just spark my interest, it also gave me ideas for practical activities that leaders may see included within our program.


One thing, I thought would be a better description was motivational conversations rather than motivational interview which still has the connotation of oversight. Guess what? This is the exact same term Dr Steindl used in closing the podcast.


Keep an eye out for the release of the program later this year.

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