This morning, when I went to my bank to transfer money out of one of the maturing time deposits, I was in for a major shock. The relationship manager, of this bank with whom I have banked with for over twenty years, tells me I cannot transfer the money out because they cannot find my signatures and the only way I can transfer is to sign a whole load of account opening documents again. Time was of essence here because I had to get the funds out by tomorrow which is exactly why I had timed my deposit in a way that it will mature today.
I tried to make sense of this and explained calmly and patiently to this woman, but she was in her own world, not listening nor showing any signs of interest. She kept repeating what I had to do. There was no apology or even the faintest inclination to accept that they had messed up and lost the documents and they were wrong. Forget care, empathy or customer service but I was left speechless at the behavior of this officer from this multinational global bank. People like her who show no accountability tarnish not only their reputation but also of the organization they work with.
I remembered the story of four people, named Everybody, Nobody, Somebody and Anybody in a team. They had to meet an important deadline within a day and Everybody has to contribute to get the final outcome. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Somebody was annoyed because he thought it was Everybody’s responsibility. Everybody thought why him, Anybody could do it. But Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.
So in all the could have, should have and would have the deadline was not met and the company lost an important client. This is a classic case of not being accountable.
In day-to-day dealings with many people, many of their behaviors makes me wonder “Have we lost the trait of “Being Accountable”?”
Mistakes are a part of life and yes we do mess things up but when things get messed up, why lie ? There is no point denying, giving excuses and playing the blame game.
A significant part of my entire day wouldn’t be wasted had this officer of the bank apologized and accepted that they had messed up and misplaced the documents. Yes that in itself is a grave mistake but had she apologized I might have considered spending some time to sign the forms.
Haven’t we ever so often heard people say I didn’t do it or I am not responsible, it is a regulatory requirement or my operations team is responsible.
You can’t blame organizations when people working in those organizations live on excuses. These excuses are not necessarily part of the system. It finally boils down to who you are and how you behave no matter what the circumstance is ?
Don’t blame the policies and the regulations for a mistake that you did. Be accountable for everything you do or don’t do.
What is important in accountability?
1. Accountability starts with YOU – it is who you are. It is about being true to your word and it comes from within.
2. Accountability stays with You – no matter the situation, you show you are accountable. You show your ownership and don’t engage in the blame game. If you are working in an organization and you are the customer facing person, you represent your company and take responsibility no matter the mess. Internally you engage with your team members and get it fixed and make sure that the person responsible for the mistake realizes the repercussions of the mess.
3. Accountability is about EQ – it is having the Emotional Intelligence to behave and act in a manner warranted by the situation. It is being emotionally aware and present about the way you behave.
4. Accountability is about Commitment – you walk your talk and are consistent in all you do. Let your values be seen in your actions and behavior. If you cannot honor your word what credibility and image are you building ?
5. Accountability is about honesty – can you be relied on? Are you trustworthy and is that evident by your actions and in who you are
The results you produce will be in-consistent if either the being or doing goes out of sync. You accept full responsibility for your actions and behaviors in every circumstance because in each of these cases You have a choice.
You show you are accountable in who you are, what you do or didn’t do and the choices you make or not make and in that you reveal your integrity and thus your character.