Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Accepting Responsibility

September 19, 2010

All of the media attention the British Petroleum (BP) disaster has gotten since the Deepwater Horizon''s wellhead blew out on April 20 and eventually sank has resonated with the American public — and the rest of the world.

While this will undoubtedly go down in history as one of humanity''s worst environmental disasters, it serves as a learning opportunity for us all.

BP was clearly not prepared for such an event, regardless of how much of a fluke this might have been.

And, while it was not necessarily our responsibility, we citizens of the world were not prepared to deal with the fallout that ensued.

By learning from BP''s mistakes, we can all strive to better prepare ourselves for any situation — no matter how far fetched — that may arise.

In the JanSan industry, we have a general idea of the crises that may present themselves, and although we will likely never have to cap an oil well spewing millions of gallons of black gold into the ocean, we will have to face some significant obstacles: Infection control, adopting sustainable initiatives, cleaning Jack from accounting''s coffee stain in the break room, etc.

On another front, there is the accountability issue.

Tony Hayward, BP''s chief executive officer (CEO), is accepting accountability for the actions of his company.

While the argument can go either way as to whether or not his actions played a direct role in the blowout and subsequent blanketing of shorelines with tar-like oil, the fact remains that he is stepping up and going to bat for his employees — something I would expect from my superiors and trust you all would do for your subordinates.

So, the next time a trash receptacle is not emptied or someone fails to properly train a new employee who makes a costly mistake like cleaning restroom fixtures with hydrochloric acid and steel wool, come forth and accept responsibility.

We, as an industry — and as human beings — need to move past the shifting the blame trend and be held accountable for our actions.

If you do something wrong or incorrectly, admit it and make it right.

You, like many millions around the globe, may be furious at Tony Hayward and all of the employees at BP, but they are only human — and humans make mistakes.

Nobody is perfect, and if we can all swallow our pride and admit that we have faults while striving to right our wrongs, we will all be better off.

Give it a try: The next time you are wrong in whatever situation, apologize and take corrective action to ensure the problem is resolved and does not happen again.

You might feel embarrassed at first, but you will gain the respect of your peers — and you just might influence others to be more prepared and accept responsibility for their actions.

The alternative is an industry of finger pointers who are quick to pass the buck and let the next person in line find a solution.

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