Follow Us

Your Personal and Professional Development: Plans, Tips and Lists

Powered by Bookboon, your personal eLibrary with 1,700+ eBooks on soft skills and personal development

Do Your Employees Blame Others for Their Mistakes?

Posted in Articles
Soft skill "personal accountability": Everybody has a part to play and if one is not functioning, the whole suffers.

The modern workplace is highly competitive. Some employees want to get ahead, some want other recognition and others want to know that their job is secure. Nobody wants to be blamed when it goes wrong. Do you work in a culture where employees blame everybody else? A lack of accountability in your workplace could be costing you time and money. 

Personal accountability is more than about simply deflecting blame. It’s about understanding that we all have a part to play in our business’ success. It is about not putting up barriers. For employers, it is about empowering our employees and energising the company. In the competitive workplace, personal accountability is now a critical soft skill. Businesses can encourage this skill in their employees.

What kind of soft skill is “personal accountability”?

A lack of personal accountability in the workplace comes in two forms:

  • Blaming others for mistakes made either as an individual or as a group. This often goes hand in hand with presenting oneself as blameless
  • Implied or stated “fruitlessness”. This is where employees place barriers in front of their work as though the system is rigged against them

Accountability at work is partly about owning one’s mistakes (work ethic). It is also about understanding that each individual can do something about a problem and is willing to try (attitude to work). Regardless of who is to blame, or whether the system itself is a barrier that makes a task difficult, blame helps nobody.

Personal accountability is a recognised soft skill and a skill lacking in the modern workplace. In a recent survey, one fifth of employers said that around half of their employees do not practice personal accountability.

Why is personal accountability important in the workplace?

Personal accountability in the workplace begins with the responsibility of each employee to complete assigned tasks. When we do not have accountability, this can have knock-on effects for other employees. If one person does not complete a task, it’s likely that several others may not either. This leads to lost productivity, lost profits, lower motivation, and stress in the workplace. Everybody has a part to play and if one is not functioning, the whole suffers.

Consequently, when employees practice personal accountability, they perform better and engage better. Their own self-worth in the workplace improves along with their confidence. When they feel confident, they feel happier. This means greater job satisfaction, performance, and results. So what is holding employees back from accepting personal responsibility in the workplace?

A lack of personal accountability is often about fear

Fear of failure is a powerful motivator. In these economically unstable times, employees are concerned about getting the blame. They feel they will suffer in one of these ways of they make a mistake:

  • They will lose their job
  • They will be passed over for promotion
  • They will be refused bonus or pay rise
  • They will lose face with their colleagues

There is the perception that managers are more concerned with looking for somebody to blame than finding a solution. With the second issue discussed above, employees fear to try out of a concern that trying to solve something is a waste of time. It is understandable that employees are unwilling to risk failure for fear of blame and ridicule.

The solution to poor personal accountability

The first step is not to blame individuals or groups for a lack of personal accountability. As a recognised soft skill, it is possible to teach accountability in the workplace with the right methods. One of these methods is Bookboon’s eLibrary Solution with its range of eLearning resource with many eBooks to study and improve one’s skills: As well as finding ways to encourage personal accountability, you will also find resources on other vital soft skills. We have thousands of eBooks at your disposal. The advantage with Bookboon is that employees and employers can learn and train at their own pace.

High-impact interpersonal skills

Learn more about accountability and other crucial soft skills with our eBook, High-impact interpersonal skills.

Read now