Building a QBQ! Culture: Hiring Right

Even in a difficult economy, organizations must hire. And though “recruiting, interviewing, and selecting” is always important, it’s even more so when times are lean, mostly because the available margin of selection error is slimmer.

Said differently: We just can’t afford any hiring mistakes!

So here’s a recommendation from us on improving the odds of finding a “good hire”:

After the first or second interview, if a candidate is worth pursuing, hand them a QBQ! book. Ask them to explore its message of personal accountability and come back for the next interview ready to share.

Here are some potential questions to ask the candidate after they’ve read QBQ!:

  • In one sentence, how would you sum up QBQ!?
  • What part of QBQ! challenged your thinking the most?
  • When there are things happening beyond your control, how do you respond?
  • What does “taking ownership” mean to you?
  • Describe a situation where mistakes were made and the tension was high. How did you react? After reading QBQ!, how will you respond now?
  • If you hear colleagues complaining about others, what will you do?
  • What do you believe are the consequences of blame?

Of course, it takes judgment to analyze responses to these questions, but hiring is entirely a judgment thing anyway. This process gives you something more to grab hold of when deciding to hire someone or not.

If a job candidate cannot articulate a clear philosophy of on-the-job accountability and ownership—do not hire them!

interview and hiring

And, if after reading QBQ!, they still blame their “family of origin” or their last employer, avoid them like the plague! Otherwise, in a couple years, they’ll be interviewing somewhere else blaming … you!

Here’s another way to help new hires and the organization, sent to us by a client in the ever-changing healthcare world:

“John, immediately upon hire, we begin a 90 day plan for each individual and they are given two books to read. Yep, you guessed it: QBQ! and Flipping the Switch. We then require “book reports” during their first two months. We discuss the content in one-on-one coaching sessions, talking about how and when to apply the material. Each person keeps their books because we ask them to make notes in them for later reference. Doing this has helped make the principle of personal accountability a part of our culture.”

~Mike Oppedahl, Executive Vice President and COO,

Every organization has a “culture.” Here’s a fancy definition:

The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization, including expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together. Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid.

In the end, personal accountability—or the lack thereof—is cultural. And whether it begins during the selection process or on a person’s first day on the job, helping people know that blame, finger-pointing, victim thinking, entitlement, whining, complaining, inertia, lethargy, and procrastination are “not what we do here” is an outstanding way to run any organization.

For discussion:

In what way is personal accountability a core value in your organization?

If it isn’t, what needs to change?

How would using QBQ! in the hiring process add value?

Comment away! 

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12 Responses

  1. I love the idea of having new hires read the books! In our organization, everyone reads a business or self development book yearly and presents the lessons learned to the rest of the team. This would be a great complement to that to start off reading a book where the concept is deeply woven in our culture. I love the 90 day onboarding plan and one on one coaching…Is the coaching done by a mentor? Manager? HR? I am just working on revising our orientation program, and I think I will be incorporating this into our new plan. Thanks!

  2. At our firm, new hires have the choice to either listen to the audio of QBQ! or to read it themselves – many choose the audio and it takes only 65 minutes. They still get the QBQ! book to follow along with and refer to later, but I find the audio gets them thinking about it right away. The audio is also great to do in a group setting once ea year with various groups as a “refresher.”

  3. John, I am a fan and firm believer in personal accountability. I worked for a Korean company and when you talk about culture – their culture is very much finger pointing – which they bring into the US offices. As an Executive Administrative Assistant I worked with the admin team to foster personal accountability – yet there was the upper management (all Koreans) pointing fingers right and left – there had to be a head to roll. Got very frustrating. Then I retired and am now teaching personal accountability to two darling grandchildren!

  4. Barbara, thanks for sharing and good for you on “gettin’ out” and helping raise those little ones!!! Yes, “heads rolling” is very much the mantra for some teams.

  5. I love this blog! I love the idea of having candidates read QBQ and discuss the concepts of personal accountability and victim thinking. My husband and I are working on starting our own business and just today were talking about the process of hiring and finding good people. I will definitely be using QBQ in our office and help our employees see the value and necessity of being accountable, not blaming others, avoiding victim thinking, and working hard! QBQ is a great tool to teach these concepts. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think this article is great! And the sign at the beginning – “No Whining Allowed” – is fantastic! At our branch offices, we currently put up signs that look like speed limit signs but instead of saying, “Speed Limit 25 MPH” they say “Excuses Limit 0”. This helps us enforce personal accountability while helping our teams think about the real reason things don’t get done as excuses aren’t allowed. If a team member starts to make an excuse, we simply point to the sign and say, “So what is the reason, xyz…”

  7. John, as you know we’ve been using your QBQ cd in our hiring process for years. Thanks for giving me some more ideas for questions to follow up with. We always ask what the QBQ means to the candidate. I always can tell if it’s just lip service when they don’t bring the concepts into their personal life. The people who “get it” will certainly talk about how it fits in the work setting BUT will also talk about how it fits at home! Keep up the great work my friend!

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