Every organization has a unique culture which is defined, in part, by the values it possesses. These values are as wide and diverse as the companies that hold them and can be grouped into two categories: core cultural values, and secondary cultural values.
Core cultural values are the values that largely make up an organization’s culture and identity. Remove any of these values and the organization’s identity and culture can be expected to change significantly. Secondary values are also important; however, these values play a lesser role in determining an organization’s cultural identity.
In helping to transform the culture in a number of organizations, I have found that there is one cultural value that no organization can do without: Personal Accountability. An organization that places personal accountability at the core of its culture requires employees to take responsibility for their actions, focus on how each individual can personally contribute to the organization’s success, and abstain from blame, procrastination, and victim thinking.
The following five signs commonly occur when personal accountability is not a core cultural value:
1. The “Blame Game” – It sounds like, “Who dropped the ball?” Nobody takes responsibility for anything and finger pointing is rampant. Poor performance and lackluster results are always another department’s fault or someone else’s fault.
2. Victim Thinking – It sounds like this, “Why do we have to go through all this change?” or “Why doesn’t anyone tell us what is going on?” or “Why can’t they communicate better?” Statements like these are a clear sign that team members in your organization are exhibiting victim thinking and not focusing on what they can do to improve their situation and their organization. Organizations that value personal accountability do not play victim to circumstance, but rather adapt to change and take proactive steps to better their situation.
3. Procrastination – It sounds like, “When will I be appreciated?” It is characterized by team members who allow opportunities to slip by and delay action until the last possible minute (or until it is too late!) Procrastination is often a direct symptom of the first two items – the blame game and victim thinking.
4. Creativity Problems – It sounds like, “I cannot do my job effectively until I have better tools.” Poor performance is often blamed on a lack of resources or equipment. Organizations that value personal accountability come up with creative solutions to problems using the resources available at the time.
5. Belief Problems – It sounds like, “I have to go to work.” In this case team members do not buy into, are not aware, or do not understand their organization’s mission, vision, and values. John Miller, author of QBQ! – The Question Behind the Question – said it best: “believe or leave!”
An organization’s core cultural values are critical to its identity. There is no value more critical to an organization’s success than personal accountability. This value will never stand at odds with the other values an organization holds, and can have a place in any organization’s culture .The best thing about personal accountability is that it is a value that can be consciously adapted as a core cultural value. If any of the five items above describe your organization there is a good chance that it lacks personal accountability as a core cultural value.
John Miller’s book – QBQ! – is a great guide for developing and improving the level of personal accountability in your organization. The book is a quick read, suitable for sales team members at all levels of an organization, and will open your eyes to the importance of personal accountability within your organization. The five signs that signal lack of personal accountability are included in John Miller's book along with much more on personal accountability. You can learn more about personal accountability by reading QBQ! or make personal accountability a core cultural value by implementing the QBQ! training program.