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Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

March 2006                                Volume 45,  Issue 2

AMD Headlines   In The News
Who is Responsible
Excuses Prevail When Something Goes Amiss
by Don Houghton

Creating individual accountability may be the number one managerial and leadership challenge facing any organization in today’s environment. 

All too often, making excuses and pushing off responsibility seems to be the first approach when something goes wrong. 

How refreshing to hear a coworker admits to a mistake, apologize, indicate that it was a learning experience and that it won’t happen again. How often does that occur versus - “I didn’t know, it was a system problem, the other person was to do it, the other department was supposed to do that...” and on and on and on!

Excuses, Excuses

Finger-pointing, ignore and deny, covering your tail, and adopting a wait-and-see attitude occur too often. If these traits are pervasive in a company, they will stifle any chance of having anything above a mediocre organization. It is the responsibility of management/leadership to create an environment where all “team members” are in the same boat and pulling together. 

Just like a well-run football team, each coworker must understand his or her role, be given the tools and training to do his or her job and then be given the authority to perform without fear of reprisal, should a mistake be made.

A Story Worth Hearing

Our vice president of operations recently related the story of a quality problem on a particular assembly line. The machine operator was the first to be questioned, but it was quickly learned the problem was not his responsibility. Rather than say, “Not my problem,” he got involved with other line personnel and maintenance to find the cause of the problem. 

Lead the Way

The crew discovered an equipment malfunction several stations down the line and corrected it. This coworker took responsibility, with other team members, to insure good quality came off their line. The machine operator and crew were recognized at the monthly company meeting for their contribution to overall company performance, which contributes to the bonus pool.

Like this machine operator, each coworker in your company must take ownership of their responsibilities, acknowledge them and take action. We all are accountable to ourselves, our families, our superiors, management and owners. It is too easy to fall into the victim cycle. Achievers work hard on focusing on what they can control, and don’t worry about things they can’t control.

We, as organization managers and leaders, must insure we are leading by example - walking the talk. We must earn the trust of those who get the job done. It is imperative that we concentrate our efforts in the people area. Getting our people to accept accountability for their actions and being empowered to do their job will produce a positive, healthy work environment enjoyed by all. 

Spend your time on safety programs, training, personal development, turnover reduction and attendance. You’ll soon discover that your business is being accomplished by responsible, accountable coworkers who care about their jobs and the success of your business.

Who is responsible? We all are!

Don Houghton is president and chief operating officer for Reeb Millwork of Bethlehem, Pa., and AMD first vice president.


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