There is a buzz word in business …accountability. All too often we preach but very few really live it. Not just at work but also in our personal lives in our personal relationships. What is accountability and how soon should we start being accountable?
Accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
We often think of public officials as being held accountable like a Mayor, Governor or President. But this runs deeper than that. This has to do with who we are as a person.
Being accountable means we are responsible for our actions regardless of how they turn out and even more when things don’t go well. We don’t blame others instead own up to our mistakes and correct the problem or even say something simple as I am …sorry.
When should being held accountable start in life ?
I know this answer isn’t going to sit well with many but it should start as early as possible. From when one is little. It starts with something as simple as when we misbehave and we are told that is not nice say…I am sorry. There is one thing I have notice with my grandkids is when they are told just that say I am sorry there is this deer in the headlight look like it is too hard to say that , which means I don’t want to be accountable for what I did. As much as it means we may have to insist on it and get that response from them to say …I am sorry without it the stage is set for later in life either at school at play or at work to not be responsible or look to pass the blame on others for our own mistakes.
This is not to tell you dear reader how to raise your child in fact this is just the opposite it is to simply point out how early we need to all be accountable for our actions . It shapes our intergrity or lack there of as a person and how others will see and value us as we go through life.
Its nice to say we want a stand up guy until that stand up guy is standing across from you holding you accountable for something. Own it embrace it and grow from it. We are accountable for the things we do and don’t do especially when we can assist someone or see something gone wrong (perhaps like a crime) don’t be a spectator, assist or help. In the end, accountability entails a lot of responsibility and it means we make choices and judgments that we may be questioned on if they fail but when we admit are accountable for our actions we gain so much more …respect.
Normally I would say this would be in a business blog and it still might but this was one I had to get off my chest.
Recently an employee was fired where I work at and my response when I was told was…”What took so long?” This employee had been warned and was pushing toward this anyway but the fact it took so long made others wonder if it was ever going to happen or if it was them would they be allowed such latitude? Fair question. Which raises the question did the company really do her a disservice firing her when they did or could they salvage both their internal reputation and her future performance by nip this in the bud sooner?
There is more to this story. Ready? here we go.
This employee had issues with lateness, lateness coming to work and lateness returning from breaks and lunch to the point that it became a subject to a investigation internally. This has been a problem from just about the start of her time there numbering years with the company. Problem is instead of dealing with the problem of lateness early on they simply passed her on to another manager, then to another and another and finally her last manager who even though she kept being late was promoted. That didn’t sit well within her own department and only then did the manager and HR have a sit down and finally stripped her of the promotion. It still didn’t address the issue of lateness and it didn’t cast the manager in a good light because he pushed for her promotion at the expense of other more deserving employees in his department. The lateness to work was bad enough especially considering they were scheduled at different times, but when you are late coming back from two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch …everyday…it is too much. This is an easy fix for a manager worth his or her salt.
Have a sit down and state what the issue is find out if there is a problem that could making it hard for her to be on time. It is a requirement of the job to be on time. But it was allowed to continue to the point that only after others protested her lateness did they give her a warning then demoted her . That will fix the problem right? Nope. She had a time management problem that was getting worse by the day. Late from two 15 minute breaks and still be in the same building …that’s a problem that really need to be addressed. Late from lunch and you eat in the break room and still late? Unacceptable! Again this is a simple fix …this is the company requirement to be on time when returning from lunch and breaks. If this is a problem for you maybe this isn’t the right place for you.
It places the responsibility on the employee to change the behavior and quick. It lets them know they are being watched and that lateness will not be tolerated. The goal is to correct the behavior. Yet no conversations were had until it was too late. Then it was a case of locking the barn after the cows left. Passing her on to another department didn’t work she only got the impression that she was doing enough right to warrant another opportunity to move around in the company. Now the problem had become the talk of the workplace she was toxic. No other department wanted to take her own and now the company had no choice but to stick to it’s own policy regarding lateness. She was finally sent packing and she didn’t look happy as she was leaving. She believes she was conspired against. Why? Because no one really had a real sit down with her and got to the root of her problem of lateness they just passed her own to the next department who tolerated it for a time the on to the next. In the end she was done a disservice by all involved because she will not see the problem for what it is …her time management. She is will find another job and will believe this job didn’t treat her right and will go to the next one doing the same thing she did that cause her dismissal in the first place …be late everyday.
My point is by not getting to the root of the issue and passing her on and even going so far as promoting her it gave her the signal that what she did was ok and in fact accepted so why change anything? Now it yanked away? Why ? It sent the wrong message to her when early own it could have been handled much differently. In the end the company did her a disservice and now she will leave not understanding what she needs to do to prevent this from happening to her again.