Do Regulations Make Us More Accountable?


I was watching television this morning and someone was discussing the new child support rules being suggested in Australia. The point was made that some people who have been providing childcare in the role of a nanny or au pair for 10+ years, would not qualify for subsidised payment and would lose their jobs. The women being interviewed said that those people did not have the skills and qualifications to keep their jobs. At which point I yelled at the TV (I really should stop doing that).

In any industry, 10+ years of immersive experience is generally considered to be sufficient to have the skills to do the job. Not only that, the fact that someone kept the job for 10+ years supports this.

Then there is the issue of qualifications, and the presumption that someone with qualifications has skill. It is a huge generalisation, but, qualifications give us the theoretical framework to do a job, experience gives us the practical framework to do a job. And in a world focussed on outcomes (nannys, sports coaches), the practical skills are more important than the theoretical skills. In fact, in a profession where personal interaction is a key component of success, I would argue that the job can be done successfully with experiential skills/without theoretical qualifications, and not the reverse.

But getting back to the point. After initially tweeting the question of skills/qualifications, I was asked whether regulations make us more accountable.  Which I thought was a great question, and I didn't have an immediate answer. Thanks Nic.

Then I decided, no, regulations do not make us more accountable.

Regulations provide a framework within which we are supposed to operate. Theoretically, this framework helps us achieve the outcomes of the job. Generally they limit the possibility of something going wrong. Often they also limit the chances of something being achieved. The first one of these is good, the second is not.

What makes us more accountable are not regulations, but being held accountable by our superiors (and peers, and anyone really). There are very often regulations in place which are not implemented by those with the authority to implement them. Sometimes because the regulations themselves mean it is perceived as too difficult to hold someone appropriately accountable due to all the regulations! Other times, the regulations are inconvenient and so are ignored. The simplest example of this is abhorrent, but happens throughout the world. It is where a coach physically and/or mentally abuses athletes, but at the same time the team is successful. Even though there are regulations in place, the coach isn't held accountable.

So, regulations do not make us more accountable. People make us more accountable.

(Photo Credit)


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