Responsibility in the Workplace

Most of us have been raised with the basic understanding of what it means to be responsible. This will generally come from our parents, our friends’ parents, our grandparents and teachers. Hopefully that puts us in good stead for what comes next in life, entering the workforce and having a job. The baton is then passed to the employee and now fellow workmates will teach us what it means to be responsible at work.

What does that look like?

Having clean and styled hair, fresh makeup (if you are a woman), cleaned and ironed clothes (along with the appropriate attire for your workplace), arriving on time and generally, 15-30mins earlier to your actual start time, learning the skills and requirements of the job, adhering to workplace policy and procedures, adapting to the culture and adding to it in an affirming way, being respectful of fellow employees, taking direction and feedback from management, being a team player, sharing new ideas and teaching new employees your learnt skills.

What if responsibility was more than that, though? And the above was just the by-product, and in fact the bare minimum, of what true responsibility is?

What if true responsibility included how you prepared yourself the night before for your day at work, dealing with and clearing any/or all the stresses of the day just passed? Nurturing your body, completing your day and preparing for the next, rather than reaching for that glass of wine, beer or spirit to “take the edge off,” “forget about the day,” or “put the day behind you”? Maybe going for a walk, talking with a trusted friend or partner, and de-briefing the day and/or eating a light and nourishing meal instead?

What if true responsibility was in how you put your body and being to sleep at night, completely wound down and in an environment that supported deep rest? Instead of working from bed on emails, the Internet or social media, or falling asleep in front of the Television, Netflix and the like.

What if true responsibility was how you begin your day at home, before you even leave for the workplace? Rising early so there is plenty of time to get ready without any rush or anxiety, maybe completing some outstanding work from the day before or preparing for the day ahead? Going for a walk or visiting the gym, building a body that was ‘fit for life’s requirements’ and could enjoy the day without the need for stimulants like sugar, caffeine and salt. Having time to enjoy a shower or bath and dressing for work. Spending time with your loved ones, eating a healthy and supportive breakfast and preparing an equally yummy and supportive lunch box.

What if true responsibility involved how you conducted yourself in the workplace; not what tasks you completed, but how you went about completing them? That you were consciously present in all your movements so that you were able to bring complete focus and dedication to each task, along with a commitment to each and every task, not seeing any part as less, or more, important than the other.

What if true responsibility involved how you are in relationships? That you treated everyone as an equal from those less experienced than you, or more senior in their position and including those that had more or less tenure with the company. What if each person was equally accountable, regardless of their position? What if every single person pulled their weight, worked collaboratively without blame for another, nor apathy for the task at hand? Working with the understanding that every single person in a company is needed and without the full commitment and unity of all, no real success can be had.

What if true responsibility was all about being the real you and bringing your all to each moment in your day at work?

If responsibility in the workplace was much more than ticking the boxes of our job requirements and turning up to work on time, and more about how we lived as a whole, then we can see that our home life, social life and work life is no different. In fact one impacts the other, and how we are in each area of life then impacts all the people in our lives.

One thing is for certain; everything that we do, say, think and feel has an impact on everyone we come into contact with, and beyond. That is, imagine what it is like for you when you have had a ‘bad day’ at work – you’re tired from the night before, have unresolved conflict with another, or are sick and run down from poor diet and lack of nutrition and so on and so on. How do you then interact with everyone you come in contact with? Now imagine, if most of us are having a bad day – how many more people get affected by this?

It is only reasonable to say then that true responsibility in the workplace is more about how we are within ourselves, and the quality in which we go about our day, not what we do.

By Terri-Anne Connors, aged 40, Melbourne, VIC

Related Reading:
Taking responsibility at work to a whole new level
True Leadership & Teamwork – Talk to an Ant
Nature – Life – Responsibility

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617 thoughts on “Responsibility in the Workplace

  1. “It is only reasonable to say then that true responsibility in the workplace is more about how we are within ourselves, and the quality in which we go about our day, not what we do.”
    Amazing blog Terri-Anne that brilliantly details a whole new benchmark for lived responsibility.
    Its a work in progress for me, routing out pockets of irresponsibility, switch off moments, where i just want to take a break, check out with Facebook or indulge in complications!

  2. One of our perils is seeing what others are doing wrong while missing where we need to take, sometimes urgent, action ourselves. This is one of the differences between being right and being true and supportive of ourselves.

  3. One point really ‘caught my eye ‘ here… treating everyone as equal. If we feel into this we can see how, for most people, there is a strata of relationship dependent on so many things… can this person help me, how do I compare etc etc. Imagine if we all related from the true spark.

  4. What I can feel in reading this is that the initial examples about responsibility are all about ‘self’ whereas what is presented here is responsibility as a reflection to others. What a very awesome way to re-look at this. When I shift what responsibility stands for and see that I am a reflection to others, then I see there is so much more purpose in being responsible. It supports every corner in how I am living and this blows away the false belief that if we only put ourselves first we are doing the right thing. When in fact so much more comes back to us if we take self out of the picture.

    1. Yes, I appreciate the moment I get myself out of the way, the moment I lose my ego, is the moment I step up in my responsibility to others – and become less intense to boot!

  5. There is a risk here that the world responsibility is associated with seriousness, with burden, and with a fervent desire to do good. When one defines responsibility like this it gives cause for us to go into shame or guilt when we do not live up to our own expectations. But that in itself is a trap, and one the catholics especially have fallen for, where the belief is cast that we are in essence sinners and must atone for our wrong ways. The truth, however, is that there is no such thing as atonement for past wrongs. There is however, true healing, which in essence is the process of realisation of the consequences that ensue for any given action. Part of the process is called karma. And so karma is not so much a punishment bestowed upon us by a vengeful God but rather a law of simple cause and effect. This is important, for one then begins to realise that there is no need to be hard on oneself. Life is instead a learning about the application of free will, and the consequences that ensue as a result of the choices you make. In that, one learns what true responsibility is. It is simply the ever deepening understanding of the consequences of our actions. And as your understanding of how life plays out in that regard deepens, so does your understanding of just what true responsibility actually entails and what is required for you to play your part to ensure not just that no harm is bestowed upon the world around you, but that you assist in your own little way in the expansion of all and sundry – that your actions contribute to the harmony of the entire world, from the flight of the humble bee, to the way the stars track across the heavens.

    1. Love what you have shared Adam, and could this add to what you have so eloquently expanded. That there is a universal responsibility to the great all and that as part of the macrocosm our actions come down to the microcosm that is presented to each of us daily. So individually with complete responsibility to the best of our ability according to our understanding of the universal laws, which we can never escape, our role is one of bringing a greater awareness that expands universal harmony collectively!

    2. Thank you for sharing the simplicity of true responsibility: making sure that our actions are not harming, and knowing that they contribute to the all – from the micro to the macro. Nothing is left out, every detail contributes to the whole.

  6. We rarely consider the impact a bad day has on the people around us but if we stop to consider it, we know, because more than likely we have been on the receiving end of someone else’s bad day. By putting it into a bigger picture, of what would it be like if many more were having a bad day all at the same time we can see the responsibility we all have to own our own consequences, to be more responsible for our waste! Almost as if our waste poisoned the earth…now there’s a thought.

    1. And if the shoe was on the other foot, a big foot for the “bigger picture,” even better let’s make it a movie and we considered the impact of a truly loving day on people. What if we all had a completely loving day, one where we greeted everyone with total joy and harmony and this was normal so at this level all that was expressed was filled with love so that a stillness was simply felt and everyone felt the responsibility to hold the joy, love, harmony and stillness. If everyone was in their own way being fully responsible to the best of their ability, which eliminates comparison and jealousy leaving space for true responsibility and a deepening level of love etc. could this be the change or shift we are all so desperately looking for!

    2. Yes Lucy it is the ultimate responsibility and a bitter pill to swallow for most but everything and I mean everything that is going on in the world we have contributed in one way or another whether we like it or not.

      1. So true, responsibility starts at home from the toilet we leave in a mess, to the hotel room we leave in chaos, to the rubbish we pollute the earth with, and the worst thing to be irresponsible with is our language, which can be so sloppy. Careless words takes care of no one but contaminates on more levels that we are willing to admit. Then imagine if we turned everything around and were responsible with the simple things in life how amazing would we feel. Coming home to a completely different environment that was cleaned with the greatest responsibility and integrity, would change how we felt about our-self. Could our language also change how we feel about our-self if we were responsible and eliminated all critique, judgment and condemnation?

      2. That can be so overwhelming and yet it can be seen as such an opportunity to re-imprint and contribute in a positive way, laying the foundation for more love.

  7. Terri-Anne, this feels true, ‘In fact one impacts the other, and how we are in each area of life then impacts all the people in our lives.’ I have felt this with how I am at home and the impact this has on my work and the people I work with, if there are unresolved issues at home then I can take this to work and am not focussed and committed to the task at hand, but can be thinking about the unresolved issue instead, this does not feel like a loving way to be with myself or others.

  8. In accepting responsibility and in wielding it wisely we have the power to change the world into a better place in which we all can prosper and evolve.

  9. A stunning expansion of what we know responsibility to be and an inspiring call to step up to and embrace it.

  10. I work in a large global organisation, where there are varying degrees of responsibility shown on a day to day basis. Some of it is very obvious, the way people responsibly turn up on time to work, sometimes that is extended to arriving at meetings on time, through to responsibilities of some individuals in managing large divisions and people. However there is a level of responsibility that isn’t quite there, that is to each other and treating each other with love and respect. There is a lot that goes on that is unspoken and quite insidious, like speaking badly about people behind their back. Not being respectful and understanding. These are all ways that undermine creating an environment where responsibility reigns.

  11. ‘What if true responsibility was how you begin your day at home, before you even leave for the workplace?’ Imagine if every job spec had this woven into it….it would certainly give us all a stop moment to consider what exactly it is that we bring to work with us each day.

    1. Yes, we take much more to our workplace that just our work bags. Every thought we have allowed, every movement, every word spoken and all the choices in between come with us into the workplace. Then we sit there or do whatever we have to do and feel all that every person has been choosing. There is much more going on in the workplace than it can appear.

  12. What a cracker of a blog Terri-Anne, so well delivered and so much to ponder on in what true responsibility looks like in the work-place. Thank-you for sharing.

  13. “…What if true responsibility was how you begin your day at home, before you even leave for the workplace?..” Its quite a study to peel back the layers of where responsibility begins… it becomes apparent that it is never ending…

  14. Hmmm! When one randomly picks the fourth blog in a row to comment on and it 4 in a row on responsibility, you can certainly feel that there is a message that is there to be read! Responsibility…. It is VERY far-reaching.

  15. Terri-Anne it is great what you say “It is only reasonable to say then that true responsibility in the workplace is more about how we are within ourselves, and the quality in which we go about our day, not what we do.” I completely agree, it really is how we are with ourselves that reflects and impacts on others. We have a responsibility with ourselves.

  16. Placing equal importance in all that we do especially the quality that we move is another whole level of responsibility that we can take in life.

  17. The way we move, which includes our walk, what we say and the thoughts we have, in a workplace either speaks the truth or confirms the lies.

  18. There are many levels of responsibility, each to be celebrated in its own way, but the ultimate understanding of responsibility is that everything also comes with energy and this is the depth and capacity we have in taking responsibility to its true meaning – that of energetically being fully responsible so that all we do does not impose in any way what so ever on anyone else, and that the full integrity of who we are is expressed in everything that we do, be it a breath we breath in or out, or a paper we publish or the way we walk down the street. Amazing really what we are capable of…and yet struggle sometimes to put into lived practice.

  19. Feeling responsible for the actions that we live in the knowing that we leave a trail of love. If this is the way we feel to live, this love is felt by all those who follow or are in the presence of what has been done by us. If this is true, could this be a possible answer to why Leonardo Da-Vinci’s paintings leave such an imprint which is still felt to this day, because they were done in love? To expand this even more, imagine if everyone lived this level of responsibility, how amazing would the world we all live in be and what would it look like?

  20. Treating everyone as equals isn’t something the corporate world has or can say it recognises. Organisations and most workplaces, adopt a hierarchy that historically is in place so that you can keep order, keep people largely in a lot of irresponsibility. This just perpetuates that feeling that we need to have a manager and levels of management in order for businesses to run. But does this not just foster more irresponsibility? Creating an environment and culture in most organisations for people to just be told and do what they are told, instead of feeling and working to purpose. There is a lot for us to expand into in corporate organisations.

  21. True responsibility is not like a garment we put on for certain occasions and then take off at the first available opportunity. Energetic responsibility is forever ongoing and keeps growing and expanding, at the same pace as our livingness and naturally so.

  22. ‘What if true responsibility was all about being the real you and bringing your all to each moment in your day at work?’ What an amazing world we would be living in if we each chose this way of living.

  23. Preparing for the following day the day before or days before depending on what it is is so supportive to myself and others – the foundation is set in place for a perfect start to the day.

  24. There is far more to a job than merely turning up, doing what needs to be done, and going home. Yet rarely is the true quality in the way we work ever implied let alone spoken about in workplaces…it is all about how much you get done. In other words function is valued much greater in our society than anything else. Hence why it will take a while for true responsibility to be a common experience for the majority of workplaces…but it starts with one.

  25. Loved your blog Terri-Anne, taking responsibility for ourselves and understanding that the quality we live is reflected in everything we do, really reveals that we can’t switch off, check out and have down time without it effecting everything our quality and everything else that we do.

  26. What if the notion of responsibility we grow up with only prepares us for so much? What if there is a whole new level we can take our life to, if we get truthful about what responsibility is and what it means?

  27. Responsibility is the rhythmical movements created in our day and night. Without this flow the quality of our movements is diminished and the heavy burden of rush and anxiety sets in naturally taking us away from the constant flow and clarity found in our choice to live responsibly. The beauty is though that we can always change the flow of our movements in one simple choice and say yes to responsibility again.

  28. Something that came to mind reading this is considering just what we think of as caring and nurturing and whether it is truly caring or nurturing for us – such as what we do to switch off or wind-down and whether it actually depletes us more or genuinely gives us an opportunity to re-connect or regenerate ready for the next moment…

  29. Gosh this blog would be great to be given to everyone when then first started their new job, it should be a must just like the job description and contract.

  30. Here with how you have presented responsibility I feel simply means loving ourselves more and in doing so we would love others more as it would have a natural ripple affect. Rarely have I ever seen the word responsibility and love together. As others have shared in the comments mostly responsibility is seen as a burden or .. we are happy to be responsible in one part of our lives but not the other parts so not living this consistently.

  31. “Everything that we do, say, think and feel has an impact on everyone we come into contact with, and beyond ” – this really does bring home the responsibility that we have all of the time.

  32. It is an never ending process refining our self care and self love, our most important task involving self responsibility.

  33. I always thought In my workplace I have the responsibility to be there and do my work to the best of my abilities but I was not aware many years ago what impact on my work it has the way I am at home and take care for myself.

  34. Yes, responsibility is so much more than fulfilling a contractual obligation. It’s an all day, everyday, moment-to-moment Livingness.

  35. True responsibility in the work place is just allowing ourselves to be all of who we are, for it is only then that we can offer a reflection of trust that the workplace can be full of joy and offer evolution for all.

  36. We think we get away with surface responsibility, looking the part and doing good only because we compare that to people living obvious irresponsibility, like being unemployed, stealing, outwardly harming others etc. But both situations are actually irresponsible by not taking energy and the quality in which we live in account.

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