Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence


A word I have heard over and over for the past year or so… accountability. Company Presidents, CEOs, CIOs, managers; all asking me to please come in and give a speech to their people about taking accountability. What is their main concern?

Employees that no longer take personal accountability for their careers.  Workers who expect the company to walk them step-by-step up the management ladder with no extra effort on their part.  People who still believe that if they just show up on time every day, they should get a raise every year and be a Vice President in seven years. They take absolutely no initiative for personal or professional development (outside the few classes that the company sends them to) and yet are distressed when they are not on the fast-track to the American Dream.

To these people I say: things have changed and you better accept it.  Your career is now your responsibility.  If you want to continue to be employed – you have to continually add more and more value to the company. And if you ever stop learning and growing and adding value – you will stop being employed. 

Is that fair? Not if you are still holding on to the old notion of life-time employment at a single firm.  But that does not exist anymore.  I cannot think of a single company in the United Sates that guarantees secure employment.  When GM is laying off thousands, Radio Shack fires hundreds by email, and huge companies across the country routinely drop entire divisions (and have unfunded pensions for the ones left)… the only job security you have is the security you create by being very good at something that is highly valuable in the marketplace and having superb interpersonal and teamwork skills.

Wow, do some people hate to hear this message. I actually had one woman follow me to the elevator after a speech, screaming at me. They feel cheated. They feel like the rules of the game got switched in the middle of the game.  Maybe that is so, but it does not change the facts. In today’s business world you have to take accountability for you own career success.