Differences Between Blame And Accountability
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 13, 2011
“The buck stops here.” – Harry Truman
Those are great words uttered by one of our former presidents, yet in a way it’s kind of unfair at the same time. I’m one of those people who believes management is responsible for a lot of how their employees behave while at work. I believe if customer service is lacking across the board that’s management’s problem. I believe if employees don’t fully understand the processes for the work they do that’s management problem. When it’s your problem it means you’re accountable for how those people do their job.
However, it’s not an absolute across the board. For instance, one would never blame any company if one of their employees turned out to be a serial killer. Someone might ask if anyone thought the person was odd, but other than that the corporation won’t take the blame for that.
But if an employee was skimming funds from a client’s account, that could be a much different issue. Many years ago when I was working someplace I kept looking at the books and thinking how efficient they were, but something didn’t quite add up. I mentioned it to the vice president of the company who said everything seemed in order and that particular office’s books and that they’d always looked like that. I never let go of that feeling, but I didn’t overly worry about it because of the vice president’s words.
Six months after I left that company, another employee noticed something one day that the manager of the office had done, called the vice president, and a full audit was conducted. It was discovered that the office manager had indeed been skimming funds from the client’s account for about four years. They came up with a workable solution and proceeded on from there, I felt somewhat vindicated because I knew something was wrong, and the client ended up none the wiser since the company resolved things without prosecution.
Blame and accountability are interesting concepts for both consumers and employers. Some consumers blame everyone in the company for their issues. I’m one of those people who knows that calling and yelling at customer service people for some reason makes no sense because those people had nothing to do with my concern. Other consumers aren’t always as sensible.
At the same time, some employers would rather blame everything on someone else rather than own up to either their own failing or the failing of the organization. Leadership that doesn’t support its employees until they investigate issues will find that every employee they get will be suspect of them and might not ever report when something is wrong, feeling they’ll get blamed for it. That kind of environment fosters problems that will be hard to overcome in the long run.
Management isn’t always accountable, but should act as if they are. It’s a much more honest way to do business, and their employees and customers will notice a world of difference.