When I was young, if I screwed up on something, or misbehaved in some way, I took my punishment and moved on. When I started working, it was much the same. I never really took it personally, and I never thought any deeper than the immediate action.
Later on in life, when I reached the age where I could do anything I wanted, with no cares about anyone or anything else, I did so with great zeal.
When I first became a leader (manager) of people, that changed for the professional side of me. When I got married, that changed for everything else. I became responsible for others, and I felt a sense of ACCOUNTABILITY for those that I was over (at work), and for the family I was starting at home. Accountability is not an easy QUALITY OF SUCCESS to define. That it is an important quality, there is no debate. But how do young people quantify this to fit in with their lives?
When at work, when you make a mistake, you aren’t just making a mistake, you are affecting the perception of the company to the customers, to the public, and to your management. Mistakes happen. Everybody gets it, but there is a difference between the guy who says, “Oh well, nothing could have been done about that”, and the guy who shows that any mistake on his part really affects him.
People seem to think, especially at the beginning of their career path that their actions don’t REALLY matter. They feel that they can get away with a lot more in the beginning than they will later on. While there is some truth to the second part of that, the first part is patently incorrect. Let’s think about the fry-cook at MacDougals (I know, but I don’t want them mad at me for using their name without permission). Once that person puts on the uniform and name badge of the company, they become an ambassador for the company. When the public sees that person, they see the company. Now, if this fry-cook picks his nose, do you really want to order fries? Me neither.
When I used to train tellers at banks and credit unions, (tellers are widely considered the bottom of the Totem-pole, mainly because they are young and the position is usually transient) one of the first things I wanted to make sure they understood was that most customers (members) wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the teller and the CEO of the company. They were the face that the customer saw first, last, and in many cases, only. Because of this, the teller is accountable to the CEO to make sure that they are giving the information that the CEO wants to have given. On the other side, the teller is accountable to the customer as a steward for the customers’ money, and as a representative of the customers’ concerns to management.
It’s all a little confusing, but to simplify, let’s look at it like this: At work, you want to handle yourself in such a way that you exemplify the standards of your company. If you don’t like you company enough to exemplify their standards: leave. When you mistake, own up to it. Everybody makes mistakes, but how you handle that mistake makes the difference between whether you will be a success or not.