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Accountability Starts With Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

Categories: Culture of Accountability

The other day I was in the kitchen making lunch, when the building shook. I immediately asked my colleagues in the back office if they were OK – as the accompanying loud “thud” I heard sounded like it came from their offices.

They were both OK but looking out the windows.

I joined them in time to see a truck slowly moving forward, away from the lower ledge of our building that it had just backed into – pieces of our building’s white ledge crumbling down on his truck, which now had a huge gash on its top.

Wow. He had just hit our building hard enough to make it shake, rip up his roof, and make plaster crumble down on his truck. Surely he would park and enter the building, to call the landlord -- taking responsibility for his accident, right?

Wrong.

He briefly stopped, leaned his head out the window for a minute, looked back at the building, and then drove out of our parking lot!

We called the police and our landlord, to let them know what had happened – heck, we didn’t want to be working in a building that may structurally unsound.

The police tracked down the driver – as we were able to read his license plate and the name of his company on the side of the truck before he left the lot. He denied causing damage to the building and underplayed the accident. They brought him and his damaged truck back to the scene of the crime and then gave him a ticket. I’m not sure what his boss did, though I doubt he won “employee of the month.”

The lesson learned from this story is like one I’ve shared before … you never know who’s watching you and your behavior. So, make them all professional.

In this case, it’s also about personal accountability. Had this man parked his truck, and entered the building, we would have gone about our day knowing he was taking responsibility for his actions. He may even have avoided a ticket, who knows?

Always be accountable for your actions. Mistakes happen. Accidents by nature of their very definition weren’t planned.

What you CAN plan for is how you react once you make a mistake

The truck driver leaving the scene of the accident without calling or telling anyone was a far worse mistake than hitting the building. He needed to own his mistake and be accountable.

An important message for all us: It doesn’t matter if you are the manager or a new hire. “The buck stops here” mentality helps nurture a culture of accountability and makes everyone more productive. True leaders demonstrate this every day

What do you think? Do have a story of workplace accountability or lack thereof to share? Time to share!

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