Professionalism Series – 9 : Accountability

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This is a follow-up part 3 of this series.

I have had the fortunate misfortune of meeting two types of individuals that I still do not understand:

1- “Dont put up this document in the collaboration system — that way people will know what you did, and so all of the blame later on could come to you… let someone else propose a plan so we can point to him when we fail.”

Notice the when we fail.

2- “No! It wasn’t my fault! The computer just wasn’t turning on… and then the lights went off… and then he told me I should hurry up so I hurried! If he hadn’t told me to hurry, I could have even tested my app!” (…forgetting the fact that I come to work at 11am and leave at 4pm and have never checked my project portal in the last three days…)

Everything that a person does in a company should be candidly accountable. No one is consciously looking for someone to blame. But 4-5 months later, someone should be able to track down a particular outcome with a single decision that led to that outcome.

Any professional working somewhere should be mature enough to accept responsibility for anything he does for that company, good or bad.

Accountability does not just portend to when things go wrong. You should be accountable even when things go superbly — a company should be able to track down the individual decision by the individual person that resulted in that boost to the business.

This is (or well, should be if it isn’t) used extensively for accounts auditing, for performance appraisals, bonus distributions etc.

Most importanly, this is relevant because it results in distirbutive justice when distributing bonuses.

If something does go wrong, however, being able to candidly say “I think this is because of me — I underestimated the latency on <component number here> and set my buffers accordingly” can save the company a lot of $$ in costs in trying to find out why something went wrong. It can also often impress your supervisors enough to reward your honesty.

One of my early mentors, and a person I respect deeply, had a great anecdote for a time he was working with Nasa during the space program. I dont wish to misquote him so I will see if he could comment on this later on.

Finally, if you feel that you do infact make yourself and your actions open, but infact that company unjustly uses that to blame things on you, then please leave. You deserve more dignity than that.

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  • How to counter a situation when your manager or lead continuously takes the credit you deserve and you only get the credit if the project fails?

  • That is precisely why being accountable is so important — if you’re confident that you are capable of generating good ideas and thoughts, then make it visible.

    Whenever you discuss good ideas or have something good to report, email it to each other and CC the supervisor — make a documentation trail of your activities somewhere public where people can find out clearly what you have done and what others have.

    Even if someone else tries to take credit, you will find that they will be the second person to write about it somewhere.

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