The lost art of accountability.

I have a major grudge against ALL my previous workplaces. Yes, ALL. These organisations and the individuals in them instilled in me a crazy ideology. They presented a framework whereby if I fucked up, I would be held accountable for said fuck up. They held me accountable for my actions, they trained me in policies and rules and procedures and if I made a mistake, I was counselled accordingly. It was in my job description that I was required to communicate with others who may be affected by my work and whose work may affect me.

It has been made clear through recent circumstances that this is fake news. I have been mislead. My previous workplaces took liberties and held my co-workers and I to a standard others simply aren’t held to.

In different dealings I have had with different organisations lately, it’s been made clear that any issues I have experienced due to the incompetence, disinterest or lies of others is my issue alone. Sure, they acknowledge that distress has been caused and that kinda maybe that shouldn’t have happened. But tough titties.

This is more than your sky high power bill (note to self: must follow up that $1000 bill) or a case of failing to read the terms and conditions (ah, that old chestnut), but bona fide circumstances that affect your sanity and your family.

My two favourite explanations for these are as follows:

Human Error: the ultimate get-out-of-gaol-free card. Human error, I am learning, is the catchall for any fuck up, no matter how big or small. Just the statement ‘it’s human error’ should placate even the most wronged person. It’s not the other person’s fault. They’re only human. I plan to bring this ideology to my current workplace. Sure a simple human error could cause severe damage to property and the environment not to mention loss of life, but hey – we’re only human. It will save on a lot of paperwork and no doubt anyone feeling negatively impacted by our mistakes will soon see the error of their ways and forgive us.

That’s how it’s done: I didn’t know there were two get-out-of-gaol-free cards but that just shows what I know. Yes you may have had lengthy discussions or meetings to clarify the ambiguities around a particular issue and it may have been documented in minutes or memorandums of understanding and filed appropriately, but pish-tosh. If you forget about that or can’t be stuffed looking it up, a simple ‘because that’s how it’s done’ should do the trick.

I am happy to write the procedures for both of these workplace approaches, after all they’ll be relatively short. The first one will be a picture of me shrugging with my hands near my face, palms to the sky, a smile stretched from ear to ear with all the smugness of a monkey who knows there will be no repercussions for flinging poop at unsuspecting passers-by. The second will include a picture of me with my head bowed and both middle fingers raised high above my head, a double-fingered salute to those who dare hold us to reasonable expectations. The manual will be entitled “Ineptitude: how to do it and do it well”.

This book will be nothing of course in comparison to the ‘Ignore It At All Costs’ manual, a fail-safe which outlines a fundamental approach that requires a more sustained effort on the part of the employee, who may experience stress without the relief of a shrug or two-fingered salute.

Seriously though, when did it come to this? When did people lose any sense of pride in their work or accept accountability for their actions? I’m not saying we should bring back public floggings, but then again maybe it would toughen up those for whom competent is a dirty word. Or a foreign one.

Anyone else feeling like this lately?



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