Successful Companies MUST Depend on a Fully Functioning High-Performance Organization

Last night the local CBS News affiliate (Channel 2 in NY) Consumer Reporter ran a fascinating story regarding “sneaky and persistent debt collectors”:

I’m all for protecting individual rights, especially privacy, and especially obeying the laws, but at the same time exactly why are collectors resorting to any means necessary to do their jobs and collect money owed to their companies or clients?

In recent years I’ve worked with several companies that have outrageously high and unfortunately growing open accounts receivables and there’s a detectable pattern: Rather than owning up to delinquencies or trying to work with creditors, too many delinquent customers are either hiding from their obligations or becoming belligerent.

Look, I know good people and good companies are victims of a horrible economy, overwhelmed by events they can’t control, but I just can’t look at this as some “Attack of the Relentless Debt Collectors” either. Whether consumers or businesses have unintentionally taken on more debt they can handle, are they still not accountable for decisions they made? And if a collector isn’t able to engage the borrower in constructive dialogue is the collector supposed to abandon her/his professional responsibilities?

I’m sure there are collectors and collection agencies that go way too far, but this CBS Channel 2 report reinforces what I believe lies at the heart of so many of today’s problems: an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility and professional accountability.

The same people that make their unpaid debt more an issue of “relentless debt collectors” than the fact that collection agencies collected an astonishing $40 billion in debt show up at work with the same distant attitude about contributing to their company’s success.

Sadly, I see this way too often and one of the toughest parts in any of my assignments is reorienting these people to a performance/production imperative. Though apparently disconnected, I see same the root causes and story lines being applied in the public outrage regarding “overpaid executives.”

It’s much easier to single out a CEO or a handful of executives in a struggling business, but successful companies depend on a fully functioning high-performance organization. A company is a collection of its parts and it’s impossible to cultivate a successful whole when sums don’t accept personal responsibility and professional accountability.

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