Accountability and responsibility – good business practice

I have been listening and reading with interest a lot of media recently about accountability and responsibility in public life.

These words are close to the hearts of entrepreneurs as literally the buck stops with the boss.

I am curious as to how we can train people in these areas of taking responsibility and being accountable when everyday we hear about political leaders, bureaucrats and increasingly even religious leaders, finding excuses and passing the buck to someone else.

Why should our young, and in fact any employees, use words such as “My mistake, I am sorry” when we find in public life all sorts of leaders using every excuse for not getting things done or not taking responsibility for things that have been done.

We know in business how hard it is to operate unless people take responsibility and yet it is no longer fashionable it seems to stay with your ship in public life.

As business often has to do deal with government, this increasing lack of accountability and responsibility in the public service and government makes business life even tougher if responsible people are at tea or in some cases dinner breaks at critical times.

My experience is that generally people are trying to do their best and it is the systems, processes and increasingly it seems leaders that are often lacking. Where human error does occur it is so much healthier if a person or a company can admit to making a mistake, paying the price or at least apologising.

Nothing endears me more to a company or people than the words “Sorry we made a mistake” or “We will fix that”.

Recently I had my car serviced and within 24 hours of a pretty expensive service it stopped dead and had to be towed to the dealer. Two weeks later I got my car back with an apology and no bill. The service department said they had done something during the service- and they spent two weeks trying to resolve the matter. Yes, it was very frustrating not having my car, but I was given a substitute while it was being fixed and the outcome was totally honest – I will go back there with trust.

Recently at griffin+row one of our most trusted business partners made a very big mistake – they left a palette destined for a major retail chain on the floor.

The CEO rang and apologised—in his words “We made the biggest mistake a logistics company can make – we failed to deliver”. His next words were even sweeter – “We wont do that again!”.

Fortunately for us this was the first time we had failed to deliver in 18 months. So no major damage had been done.

I wish our politicians and public servants would take the same approach – promptly should mean promptly, we made a mistake should mean exactly that, there is no cover up here should also mean that there is no cover up.

A cynical mistrusting society is not a good environment for business.



High Heeled Success book



Marcia Griffin’s latest book, High Heeled Success (pictured left), is a frank account of building a business from a solitary sales person to a multi-million dollar business with 4,700 sales consultants around Australia and New Zealand. Contact Marcia to purchase. Marcia’s latest venture is skin care company griffin+row.



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