Insecurity in the Work Place

God, I hate CYA.  For those of you not in the know, CYA stands for Cover Your Ass.

Wikipedia defines CYA as:

Cover Your Ass (CYA) or Cover Your Own Ass (CYOA) describes professional and organizational practices that serve to protect oneself from legal and administrative penalties, criticism, or other punitive measures.

I define it as:

Cover Your Ass (CYA) describes practices that serve to protect you from someone doubting your actions or decisions.  It’s protection from someone asking why you did something in a particular way instead of the way that they imagine it should have been done.

Here’s my issue.  If you are doing something one way in hopes that no one will attack you or your methods, you are assuming that you accounted for all methods that would accomplish the task you are currently doing.  You can’t do that.  It’s not possible.

So what then does CYA accomplish?

In the past, when I’ve seen CYA in the workplace, or, admittedly, when I’ve covered my own ass, the actual CYA acts got in the way of getting the job done.  You either end up wasting people’s time making sure that they are involved with whatever you’re doing (in case you’re trying to prevent attacks around silo-ing some effort) or you end up wasting your time creating some sort of paper trail that would enable auditing (in case you’re trying to prevent attacks on your methods).  I’m sure there are other things that I’ve seen that but those are the two classifications that stand out.  Key to both of them though is ‘waste’.  A lot of time wasted.

Recently I felt compelled to cover my ass, and I didn’t like it at all.  I don’t like wasting time, mine or others’.  Plus, I’d like to think I’m trusted and empowered to ‘get the job done’.


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