Outcome based results & individual accountability

Whilst on the lunch table today, one of my colleagues in other project mentioned the possibility of our company introducing the performance based accountability factor in one’s salary and pay cheque and I was really stunned with the way things are now going downwards..!

Essentially the point my colleague was making that there are discussions happening within the organization to make individual more accountable by introducing ‘fines’ against someone who would make mistake while implementing the product or change that would eventually lead to any monetary losses to the company. This is probably something that was never heard of for the permanent employees, possibly has happened and happens for contractors though !

I think this may or may not be a wise step to do, especially within the Production Support and Application Support environment where teams are expected to work 24×7 under a pressure cooker scenario.

If taken in a right spirit (which normally does not happen), it may help keep the people on their toes whilst doing the critical job and make them extra cautious and avoid obvious mistakes. I am afraid, it might turn out to be a disaster if individual people are blamed and put to sword, in front of other colleagues, it might turn them off and leave them demoralized. Its like dishonouring individual’s contribution to the projects, however successful, if they make one single mistake.

I remember one incident in the past that happened with one the other projects where one of the DBAs accidently deleted few tables from Production database instead of the pre-production environment. This led to the production portal being down for 3 consecutive days whilst the recovery was ongoing in background from backups etc. This issue, forever left a blemish on his career and he was always perceived as ‘the person’ who took production down, rather than how good this person was and what previous contribution he made in the projects.  He was immediately sacked from his role and probably had left the company as a consequence.

Whilst, I am in favour of stronger accountability across the management chain and down to the individual, I am strongly against putting the blame on one single individual or a group of team members who work day / night to ensure that the project stays on track and the product is delivered on time. Normally the rewards are taken by the management, if the team does brilliantly, but all the issues and problems cascade to the down-most possible level of organizational hierarchy. 

In my opinion, the people within organizational chain, who are directly involved in the outcome of the project, should all take their share of blame.  However, traditionally what is seen in the organizations (as depicted in the picture below), the accountability of the project lies most with the lowest leagued people, whereas the bonuses earned by Sr. Management are the highest !


Picture – Traditional models for accountability vs year end bonuses paid !

Whilst I do not want to make any recommendations with regards to the suggested model for introducing the ‘fines’ to individuals, I think the blame should be shared with all those people who are directly involved in making the project success. Be it the person who is developing it, the one who is doing quality check, the one who is project managing it, the one who is actually implementing it and of course the people who are providing infrastructure to make whole thing work !

As usual, rest is left to you to think and make your own judgement !

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