Welcome to the first post from the HR Investigator at our new location TheHRInvestigator.com. As you know if you read my posts regularly, I focus not only on the process of investigations, but the positive outcome that comes from fair and consistent accountability. Don’t be afraid of the “A” word, accountability. Now, more than ever before, we are learning how a lack of accountability can tear down our companies, communities and even our great nation. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can take steps to remove the drama and become more comfortable with holding one another accountable in our work, families, social circles, and communities. Without accountability, we will never have the civility that we all so desperately need to live peaceful lives.

Back in the 90’s we were inundated with studies that told us we had to change the way we raised our children in order to protect and build self-esteem. Many parents decided that they needed to friends with their children. It did result in closer relationships. But as part of that, we created a society that lost the control that comes from enduring consequences. For example, a teen received her weekly allowance and immediately bought a new outfit she had been wanting. Then she was invited to go to a concert with friends, but didn’t have money for the ticket. When she told her Mother, instead of suggesting that she should save some of her money for things that come up, her Mother bought her the ticket so she wouldn’t miss out. With that type of action, the lesson became why save or work for what I want? I will get it anyway. I deserve it.

Yes, that was a light example. But having “I deserve it” be the driving force for decision making in our lives, has brought us to where we are today. I often hear people say “The promotion was taken from me. I deserve it”. To which I ask them, how can something be taken away that you never had? So, you are probably asking, where does accountability come in to play. When things don’t go the way we want them to or we do not get what we want and believe we deserve, it’s its time to ask the hard questions, evaluate the answers, and move on. By holding ourselves and others accountable, we are much better prepared to learn from situations and be able to make better choices and take better or different actions the next time.

Whether you are in a situation where you need to hold another accountable or take accountability for something yourself, try asking the following three question in order to determine what needs to be done. These questions can also be useful when conducting workplace investigations or following up with an employee post-investigation.

  1. Was there a choice or action that could have been taken that would have resulted in a better outcome?
  2. Is there something that can be learned from this situation that would increase the chances for a better outcome or prevent this outcome from happening again?
  3. What conversation (with myself or another) needs to happen in order to move forward from where we are now? (Never skip this step!)

Over the next month I will focus on communication skills to help ensure that the conversation that takes place as a result of the third question becomes more effective and comfortable for everyone involved.

Don’t be afraid of the A word!

Accountability makes us all better people.