When a person is hired or promoted to a management position exactly where folks are required to report directly to them, inherent in that action is accountability for those employee's efficiency and productivity. This often comes as a surprise or shock to a manager when they get their 1st performance evaluation and it is much less than satisfactory. A sales individual is solely responsible for himself or herself and the work they perform. Once promoted to management this accountability for what others could or may possibly not accomplish is new territory for them.
Accountability for someone else's actions is a very tough adjustment. It is against our natural disposition to accept responsibility for someone else. The natural tendency is to blame other people for the mistake or failure. Two reasons could account for a manager attempting to pass the blame to a subordinate or other manager.
Initial, the manager feels that other people view them as much less than capable in their responsibility and undermine their authority and second, the manager try's to keep away from embarrassment for a mistake or cover up. What every single manager must learn and accept in their position comes from President Harry Truman's desk exactly where he placed a sign, which said: "The Buck Stops Here."
Each and every manager who has accepted a position of responsibility for other people in their charge is accountable for them. For their role, the buck stops with them. Playing the "blame game" lessens management authority, affects employee productivity and motivation, and stymies teamwork. Astute "upper" managers recognize when one of their reports is attempting to assign accountability to other people and failure to accept this is worse in the eyes of those the manager reports to than the mistake itself.
Lately an operational district manager was discussing "complaints" with a valued customer.
The customer was rather heated and demanding in their evaluation of the cleaning they perceived was lacking. The consumer wanted results - not excuses or blame but what she heard I did not cost out this enterprise, we do not have sufficient folks to manage the job, at this point the property manager exclaimed, "I don't want to hear an individual else is to blame or any other excuses, either you will do the job as I want or I will find an individual who will." The district manager's excuses were an physical exercise in futility with the valued customer.
In addition, the district manager made these excuses in front of the project supervisor and the whole conversation was repeated to others in the cleaning organization. The individual responsible for pricing the account was, understandably upset, with the operational district manager, blaming behind their back. The price was based on the original specifications given by the property management firm and in an extra meeting the property manager agreed to pay much more for the unique requirement.
Even though the customer agreed to help in rectifying the cleaning problems, the harm to personnel in the cleaning organization was not resolved. Trust and respect was lost by the supervisor, the pricing individual, and region managers that report to the district manager. Everyone wonders when they will be blamed for a mistake, and motivation and productivity has been affected. The operational manager's authority has been damaged by this incident.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was a massive failure for President John F. Kennedy. To President Kennedy's credit, he accepted full responsibility for the debacle. Speaking with newspapers, Kennedy stated, "This administration intends to be candid about its errors. For as a wise man once stated, 'An error does not turn into a mistake until you refuse to right it'... the final responsibility for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion was mine and mine alone." There were no excuses or justifications, just full responsibility for the failure and his reward for the honesty, his popularity skyrocketed.
Mistakes, failures, and difficulties are a part of the enterprise world and will constantly occur. "Failure," teaches Zig Ziglar, "is an event, not a person." The mistakes you make don't make you less of a leader, how you deal with the errors determines your leadership credentials and if you will continue to have followers. Contrast President Kennedy's handling of the mistake versus the operational district manager. The lesson to be learned leadership and accountability go hand in hand. A real leader will be wise to bear in mind that wisdom.
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