Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review

1,000,000 members
  • Join

    When you join a group, other members will be able to see your profile and message you. The group logo will be visible on your profile unless you change that setting.

  • Information and settings

Have something to say? Join LinkedIn for free to participate in the conversation. When you join, you can comment and post your own discussions.


If Your Employee Makes a Mistake, Do You Accept Responsibility?

Financial Professional Associate at The Prudential Insurance Company of America

Accepting responsibility for those reporting to you is a very important trait of a successful manager. As business executives, we like to think that we've hired the most qualified people to help us, but from time to time mistakes (including costly ones) can and do occur, even among our best staff members. Rather than to quickly shift blame and "throw them under the bus" in order to save face (and our own jobs), we need to realize that in most cases it was our decision to hire that person, as well as our responsibility to provide proper training, monitoring, evaluation and mentoring after they were hired.

  • Comment (209)
  • January 19, 2013
  • Close viewer


  • June M.


    June M.

    Mentoring and Recruitment Specialist

    Evan, I have written an article on this matter. If an employee makes a mistake yes they most certainly do take responsibility. Personal Responsibility is an obligation to onsellf

  • Paulo A.


    Paulo A.

    Product Engineer Senior at MANN+HUMMEL GmbH

    I agree. The important thing is what is the action plan, to get things right. Mistake isnt good thing at all but it happens, so focus on solution must be the right thing to do.

  • Edward R.


    Edward R.

    Strategy | Integration | Global Risk

    Taking responsibility is part of the job description; unwritten of course. Delegation and empowerment are ways to develop employees and mistakes go with the territory. As a leader you should be ready to "take the hit" and move forward with an opportunity to teach. My first obligations as a leader are the mission and my employees; ensuring my employees recieve the development opportunities that will enable them to step into leadership roles.

  • James V.


    James V.

    Venture Philanthropist & CEO at Vaughn International

    Of course I take responsibility for the mistakes made by my employees (in my business.) That does not keep me from holding my employees to the consequences of their mistakes.

  • Julie Ann Z.

    Julie Ann

    Julie Ann Z.

    Performance Management Manager & Strategic Intervention Coach: Life Happens. Recalculate Your Interpretation™

    Evan - there is a need for more leaders like you in the world -- Unfortunately 80% of Corporate Leaders and Business Owners operate out of FEAR which shows up as anger, control, blame and as you put it " "throw employees under the bus" in order to save face".

    Responsibility is the willingness to accept I as cause in the matter - when we each can see and OWN where we contributed to the mistake, it stops the deflecting, the blaming and name calling and places the focus on the solution, how to avoid the mistake from happening again with better training and a new set of checks and balances. We are humans -- mistakes - miss takes - happen and in that allows the opportunity to learn, and grow, in a safe environment, rather than a toxic blame/shame name calling game.

  • Richard P.


    Richard P.


    You certainly have to. The reliability of your employees depends on you as the team leader. They behave like they have been instructed, explicitely or implicitely, to do.

  • Carl Byron R.

    Carl Byron

    Carl Byron R.

    Executive Coach at CarlRodgers

    Very interesting
    Personal responsibility/accountability is key for credibility but it also depends on the environment one works in and the effectiveness of the HR, as mea culpa can be a double edged sword.
    Hope this link is interesting

Have something to say? Join LinkedIn for free to participate in the conversation. When you join, you can comment and post your own discussions.