Accountability in the Workforce

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When things go horribly wrong or even at the other end of the spectrum; when things are wildly successful suddenly we are pointing the finger to the “accountable” parties. When it is a negative consequence the favorite word of the hour is always “should”, they should have done it this way, or he should have known. That kind of thinking is like the armchair quarterback on a Sunday afternoon in his recliner chair watching the game. As you comfortably sit; snacks and a beer at hand, it is very easy to state what you would have done, because you are sitting comfortable, you have a full view of the whole field and what everyone is doing, you are not worn out from practice or the roar of the crowd or wind, etc. in other words you don’t always take all of the facts into consideration. 

That is the way in the workplace when blame or success comes around. It is a very difficult task to know exactly what percentage of it to place on what department and person. One or more department usually feels left out or held accountable for someone else’s mistakes. Blaming is a very easy, arrogant and ignorant behavior and stance to take especially in a loss or downturn. It takes the attention away from what is really happening because people do not like to face troubles head on, they would rather side step them a few times before they come to acceptance. 

Not to mean that you can’t hold some people accountable for whether they are carrying their own weight in the workplace or whether they really do have some contribution to give. You really have to carry out this barometer reading on a regular basis, and not just pull it out once a year or in the fit of a failure. But, you have to also be sure that your measurements are clean and true, that means that you have to start first with an unbiased assessment of a person or department and then move onto a sort of actions, tasks and results equation. We are not machines, and a scale of results may not work for every single situation, so we also use human common sense and reasoning. No amount of spreadsheet or database data will tell you pure accountability, because even if a sales person sold 10 million widgets more than the other sales people, if no one can stand to work with this person and you lose good employees and customers across the board, well, that is not real success.   

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