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Are You Making This Tragic Accountability Mistake

Are You Making This Tragic Accountability Mistake?

by | Aug 5, 2019 | By Karin Hurt, Courageous Cultures, Winning Well |

Have you ever noticed that lack of accountability is contagious?

If you know your boss is paying close attention to your results (and how you achieve them), you’re more likely to be absolutely certain that your team is doing the right thing, at the right time. Of course, the inverse is also true. If your boss ISN’T paying attention, it’s far easier to look the other way when your team drops the ball.

Which means one overwhelmed, lazy or scared manager letting slackers slide can create a cascading effect of lost accountability.

The Multiplier Impact of Poor Accountability – One Afternoon in a Mountain Town

I was delighted to find the grocery store in the mountain town we were visiting had a new surprise— kombucha on tap! Since kombucha is my go-to book writing beverage, I bought the reusable growler and smiled as I filled it with frothy goodness.

But the next week, when I came back for a refill, all I heard were sloppy squirts of messy air. The kombucha tap had run dry.

Trying to be helpful, I went to the folks working the deli counter (immediately adjacent to the empty kombucha dispenser.)

“I’m not sure if you know this, but the kombucha dispenser seems to be empty.”

“Lady, that’s not my job. You should go find a manager somewhere to tell that to.”

Whoa. Really? “Ummm, do you think YOU could find a manager and let them know?”

“That’s not my job.”

Oh boy. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. It’s hard to teach accountability and leadership as frequently as I do, and just let a scene like this go.

So I went and found an Assistant Manager and explained the employee’s response—at this point kombucha was not the issue.

“Oh yeah. That’s bad. But I can’t do anything about it. You’ll need to tell the manager.”

Yeah, I’m starting to get the picture.

I’ll give her this much, she sent the manager to find me as I continued to shop.

So I explained what I do for a living and why I care.

“I hear you,” he said, “But there is nothing I can do about it. It’s these damn millennials. They just don’t care. There’s nothing I can do. Do you have any suggestions?”

Well, of course, I do. I have a whole book of suggestions.

A Quick Winning Well Training in the Frozen Food Aisle

So I shared a few fundamentals, right there in the frozen food section—while a bag of frozen edamame was melting in my hands.

He listened intently.

And then he just shook his head.

“That all sounds great, and I’m sure it works at other companies. It just won’t work here.”


“Store managers have no power here anymore. It used to be you could run your store and make a difference. Now everything is run from corporate and HR doesn’t let us hold people accountable.”

Hmmmm, I wondered about that one. I’d love to hear the other side of that story.

“But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Let me go over there right now and talk to that employee, using the technique you shared.”

“Great,” I said.

And then I watched him walk off in the opposite direction from the deli counter, still holding my empty growler.

See Also

Your turn. What advice do you have for preventing a lack of accountability from being contagious?

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

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