I’m sure I’m not alone in the ridiculousness that is keeping every e-mail,unnecessary cc’s, back-up paper copies of work documents, saved voicemails-you get the picture. No, I’m not a packrat or hoarder. However, somewhere along the line a paradigm of saving everything you do was handed down to me as the“norm”. It became the norm because someone, somewhere decided we all need a way to “cover our asses” if called on the carpet for not doing something important. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing better than being able to send that sweet c.y.a. e-mail that quickly puts a person’s selective amnesia and/or bashing to rest.The point is- it is tiring and pointless. Why is it tiring and pointless? Let’s get to it.
C.Y.A. or covering your ass takes precious time. It is not time well spent. It is time you take away from other important tasks to prove that you did your job. You have to find the folder, then the date the occurence happened on and then it requires further discovery to find the precise spot where you completed the task or said the very thing you are accused of not doing.
This brings me to why it is pointless. It is pointless, because it can all be avoided if people were held accountable at all levels. Accountability is not just for staff it applies to leadership as well. You don’t get to stop reading e-mails properly or not at all because you’re a leader. You don’t get to omit bits and pieces of information because you’re the big dog. You don’t have the luxury of regularly forgetting what is going on in your space, with your team and business-because you have a title. I’m not going to pick on leaders alone. You don’t get to call yourself a professional and do any of the above either. Mistakes happen. I’m not talking about occasional mistakes or slips of memory. I’m talking about a blatant lack of accountability.
Accountability ensures that all parties involved acknowledge their duties and take genuine responsibility for the completion of those duties and/or the lack thereof. If leaders and professionals alike hold themselves to this standard-why would we need to constantly c.y.a. ? We wouldn’t need to, because everyone would own what they did or didn’t do. If you didn’t follow up on something, you would say I didn’t do it, apologize and complete the task. Isn’t that far more productive than acting like you did something and having people search their archives only to prove you wrong? This is counterproductive behavior and I am frankly tired of it.
We are all busy, spread thin and overburdened with duties. It is understandable for things to slip your mind. Here’s a fact: employees don’t enjoy feeling like they have to create and keep a deposition for every action they take in business.Champion accountability and there will be less of a need to cover your ass. I say trash the c.y.a. shuffle and hold people accountable at all levels.
What do you all think? Is there a place for c.y.a. in the workplace or is it counterproductive?