Growing up as a child, it was common to hear and sometimes say, “You’re not the boss of me!”

There always seemed to be some challenges to parents, teachers and friends, as we started to develop our independence. Somewhere through this journey of life however, we soon started to hear our peers and some cases out of our own mouths…

In other words, “I’m not in charge” and “I’m not the boss.”
Many people started wanting to give up responsibility as they get more responsibility.

  • I’m not the boss
  • I don’t get paid enough to make the decision
  • It’s their equipment, they should know how to operate it safely
  • That’s outside my job description

The issue of not really knowing who is in charge is commonplace in many of the incidents that I have reviewed. In TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis, we define accountability as ensuring that the person who is in charge of the working being done knows he/she is in charge and coworkers/management know that person is in charge. When many different companies with different functional roles work together, the more susceptible the work being performed is to the root cause of Accountability Needs Improvement.

Take the following work environments and think about what issues have or could arise…

Operation Room: Company A Surgeon, Company B Anesthesiologist, Local Hospital RN Nurses, Company C X-Ray Technician…

Deepwater Ocean Rig: Company A Operator, Company B Owner, Company C System Vendor Technician…

Construction Site: Company A Crane Operator, Company B Crane Rental Mechanic, Company C Labor, Property Owner, Company D Project Planner…

Here are a few best practices to help when performing the actual work:

1. At the beginning of each job, people introduce themselves and their role during the work to be performed that day. This gives each person a voice and role.

2. Client supervisors that must perform Tailboard and JSA meetings at the beginning of each job should familiarize themselves with the energy and line of fire danger areas for all equipment on site. Even if it is equipment used by contractors. The contractor also has a role to educate the client and other contractors in the area.

3. All people performing the task should discuss possible issues that may occur and what would require work stop and actions to follow when possible. Learn more about this concept of Crew Resource Management in our 5-Day Team Leader Course.

Remember, we all have a role to perform during a task. If roles are not defined and there is no clear sign of true accountability, that task may not get done, get done incorrectly and there will be no one with the right knowledge to stop the work when issues occur.