I think you need to look at this differently. If they no longer feel free to bring up things that are wrong, then they will start to hide mistakes to please you instead of fixing them. That is a bad thing. I have seen it happen when a boss made it clear that he didn't want to hear about mistakes.
What you want is teach them to bring up errors appropriately and in a positive way to get them fixed. You need to set the tone that it is a good thing to bring up errors. You need to set the tone that you want to hear about problems in the code. You need to set the tone that the discussion should be about how to fix not who to blame.
However, there are inapproriate ways to do that. And you need to set the tone here as well. It is not inappropriate to do the following:
- Mention in a team meeting that there is a problem in XYZ and that you
need to coordinate with Joe to figure out a solution.
- Get excited about finding a problem that has been plaguing the team
for a long time and spontanously say something like, "Yes! there you
are you sneaky little bug." But no naming names as to who made the
- Bring up a performance problem of an individual who is making too
many and too severe mistakes to you as the boss in private.
- Talk in the hallway about how hard it was to figure out what was
going on in ABC and hey that debugging technique might help you with
GHJ. Again with no names named as to who caused the bug.
Places where is is inappropriate would be:
- In a client meeting unless it was specifically called to get to the
bottom of a particular issue.
- In a meeting with other teams within the company where they do not do
the same sort of thing. You don't want to look worse than the others.
- When there is name calling or put downs of the skill levels of some
- When the focus is who can we blame, not how do we fix.
How to get people to do the right thing in regards to bugs? First make your expectations clear in a team meeting. This wil require some introspection on your part because you can't be vague here, you have to say explicitly with examples what you do and do not want them to do. And you have to be careful that the discussion includes how to bring it up as the last thing you want is for them to think you want mistakes hidden.
Next, if people start to go off the rails and start blaming instead of focusing on the fix, then interrupt them and refocus the discussion. If someone continues to behave badly, then talk to him privately, tell him his behavior is unacceptable and handle it like any other performance problem.