Taking accountability for your mistakes in business

In a recent article of The Pulse, we talked about the importance of building trust while doing business. One way to do that is to always hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for mistakes, accidents, and poor judgement calls that you or those acting on behalf of your business may make.  

In this article, we look at what that means, and how you can move forward in a way that fosters trust after a mistake has been made. 

What is accountability, in a business sense? 

Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. But it’s a little different when a business or brand is being held accountable, rather than an individual person.  

As the business owner or senior leadership of a company, you’re accountable for the actions of every person underneath you. If you’re management, you’re accountable for the actions of your whole team. Essentially, even if your personal errors are few and far between, you’re beholden to more than just your own actions.  

How to take accountability, even if you haven’t made the mistake.  

As previously mentioned, sometimes accountability in business means taking ownership for mistakes made by another individual under your employ. This may not come naturally, as it’s pretty easy for our brains to skip to, “well it’s not my fault!” When that reasoning doesn’t cut it, here’s what you have to do: 

  • Acknowledge the mistake and take responsibility for it.  
  • Apologize to those affected.  
  • Take action to resolve the issue – this may involve refunds, discounts, replacements, staff training, or even implementing new policies.   
  • Take measures to prevent similar mistakes from occurring again.  
  • Communicate openly about how the issue is being resolved/prevented in the future. 

Failure to implement these steps could result in an overall loss of consumer trust and a decreased chance of customers returning.  

In conclusion… 

In business, accountability is more than just owning up to your own mistakes. It means that you, as an owner, executive, or manager, are responsible for everyone acting on behalf of your business, and taking accountability for their mistakes, as well as yours, is part of best business practice.