· 1 min read · Features

Shifting blame is the name of the game


At risk of sounding like some old curmudgeon, am I the only one who thinks there is something seriously wrong with society today? Schools employing bouncers to control kids; police arresting people planning to exercise their democratic right to protest before they have even stepped outside; Britain becoming a more fearful place with rising levels of anxiety; Government continuing its seemingly unhindered march towards a Big Brother state - I mean, what is going on?

Talk to any of the protagonists and they all say the same - it's someone else's fault. Teachers: 'the parents are to blame'; police: 'it's those troublemakers in them environmental groups that done it, sir'; psychologists: 'politicians just keep talking up worst case scenarios'; Government: 'it's everyone, we are just making Britain a safer place'.

Shifting blame is the name of the game in the 21st century. No one seems to take responsibility for their own actions any more, let alone for their team's. And the world of work is replete with such thinking. How many senior bankers are still in jobs, despite contributing to millions of pounds of losses? How many CEOs have failed to fall on their sword when performance is poor? And how many politicians find it so difficult to utter that one small word - sorry. The latest email scandal dogging Gordon Brown merely serves to highlight the insidious lack of accountability that is creeping through both the public and corporate worlds at the very highest levels.

In HR we all know accountability is a vital component of leadership. When 'prime minister in waiting' David Cameron said of the emails, "I don't know what Gordon Brown knew and when he knew it, but what I do know is that he hired these people, he sets the culture, he is the leader", he may have been scoring political points but his words about a leader's responsibility ring true.

In our exclusive interview with Met Police HR director Martin Tiplady he talks about winning confidence through accountability. Henley dean Chris Bones goes a step further, saying: "We are sleep-walking into a social disaster and we need to take action now" (p21).

HR must help create a culture where risk is minimised without losing innovation and flexibility. Accountability is central to this.