With all that is going on in the world today, I believe that the word “ACCOUNTABILITY” has strong implications for our personal, business and political lives. According to Webster, Accountability means: “the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”.
The words “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions” is the crux of the matter. How many people do you know who are willing to accept responsibility for their actions? Not many. It seems like no matter what we do or don’t do, it’s always someone else’s fault.
We are seeing an increasing lack of personal accountability in all sectors of our lives. My wife happens to teach math and science to six grade middle school kids, and you wouldn’t believe the stories that she tells me about how kids today are not being held accountable to do their work. In fact, she often tells me stories of how parents jump to the aid of their children and want to place the blame on the teacher for their child’s lack of accountability. The fact that the parent didn’t sign off on the child’s homework and the child didn’t turn it in is somehow the teacher’s fault. Ok, we’ve all had stories of “the dog ate my homework”, but when it becomes a lifestyle, then it is reflected in our education, work place and personal life.
As business owners and managers of people, we see this in the workplace when people don’t show up to work on time and they always have an excuse as to why that continues to happen, laying the blame for their lack of responsibility to their job, on someone or something else, that is outside of their control to change or fix.
I love the cartoon attached here, as it points out this problem. The lack of accountability permeates our environment from something small and insignificant to something that is life or business threatening. The problem is, as I see it, that we accept the excuses of others rather than hold them accountable, and it is causing a breakdown in our business as well as our society. Often times it appears that we are afraid to confront the irresponsible individual, so we allow a pattern of their irresponsibility and lack of accountability to become a pattern that we accept.
If, as an organization and managers of people, we don’t hold those who work for us accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, then we too are lacking accountability to the company we work for. Sweeping things under the carpet will just create a pile that everyone will trip over. Accountability needs to take place from the CEO and Board of Directors, down to the most entry level position within an organization. If there is no accountability, then the quality of work and output from that organization will be questionable.
Those organizations that have a high degree of accountability make people want to do and be better. Organizations need to have a structure in place that measures accountability, so the quality of work and output is one that employees and customers can count on. I say, stand up and be accountable and let the buck stop here! At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?