Bonding by Blunders: How a Culture of Accountability Made Me a Happier Employee

Like most Millenials my age, I’ve worked at quite a few companies in the course of my career. In doing so, I’ve found no matter how large or small a company is, there’s one thing you can’t get away from: the cookie cutter company meeting. Although there are some subtle differences, the format is typically the same:

  • Obligatory welcome with the promise to “not take up too much ofcompany meeting your time”
  • Company status update
    • If it’s good news, pep rally time
    • If it’s bad news, a speech about how difficult changes will make the company stronger
  • Shout outs to Good Employees- either formal or informal
  • And always, always, an awkward Q&A section

So, when I started my new job at BlueHornet Email (the…ahem…fifth company in my career) and was walking to the first company meeting, I had my “company meeting” checklist in my head.

As the meeting started…

  • Obligatory welcome? Check.
  • Company status update? Check.
  • Shout outs to good employees? Check.

“And now,” the general manager says “it’s time for blunders.”

Umm what?

One by one, my co-workers started naming the cringeworthy things they’d done throughout the week.

  • Accidentally sending an internal email to a client
  • Admitting and apologizing for a short temper during a meeting
  • One person’s blunder started with “Well, my boss doesn’t know this yet, but I guess this is as good a time as any….”

socially-awkward-penguin-meme-send-emailAll the blunders were pretty cringe-inducing, but always eventually led to laughter by the group. If I could pick any single moment that I knew that BlueHornet was the place that I was meant to be, it was then.

I know, I know, I’m Digital Marketing Girl, not an HR expert. And this post isn’t meant to be a promo for my company. But as you know, I like to talk about my struggles and successes in my career transition, and when I find a company that I feel helps me grow to be a better Digital Marketing Girl, I had to give you the inside scoop.

Accepting Accountability Helps You Look at Yourself More Critically

And I mean critically in a good way.

Before the weekly company meeting, I look back at my week and think about my missteps: who did they affect, why I did what I did, etc. And to be perfectly honest, there’s always one moment that I regret. I’m human!

Even if I don’t announce it to the company, it’s a cathartic process and, were it not for the upcoming blunder session, I don’t think I’d take the time to do that.

A Company Culture that Strongly Discourages Blaming Helps Promote “Teamship”

One of the rules of the blunder sessions is that you can’t nominate angry-guysomeone for a blunder. In other words, no blaming.

I’m sure this has happened to all of us in corporate America: you schedule a meeting, everyone accepts the meeting, the meeting starts, and someone who accepted doesn’t attend…with no explanation. I don’t know about you, but this leaves me secretly seething. Some people may go on to blame the lack of success of the meeting due to the person’s absence.

On the other side, the person who didn’t show up to the meeting realizes it may have been a little rude, but simply emails “Sorry for missing the meeting, I was busy, catch me up later!”

An unspoken tension ensues.

Now, imagine if the “rude” no-show were to speak up during a blunder session and apologizes in front of your peers. Instantly, the gigantic elephant in the room is gone.

A Culture Built on Accountability and Transparency Eliminates the Fear of Making a Mistake

We’ve all been there, you made a mistake and now you have to tell your boss.

This actually happened to me last week, I thought I booked a flight for my upcoming business trip weeks in advance. Then last week, I was doing my final checks for the trip and realized that I hadn’t fully booked the flight.

Well, the flight price had risen…significantly…and my VP had to approve the new price.

I’ve worked at companies where anyone involved would scramble for a good coverup story, but because BlueHornet promotes a culture of accountability, I walked up to the VP and said, “I blundered. ”

She was calm and collected, told me it was okay and asked what happened. I told her, we dealt with it, and moved on.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen the fear of being blamed promote a company culture of coverups. Knowing that I’m at a company where blaming is looked down upon and honesty is rewarded, makes me a happier person and a better employee.


Think about your week. What are the things that you went home at night and really regret saying, or not saying? Do you think you’d be willing to publicly air your blunders to your co-workers?

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