The 9 Defining Characteristics of the Ideal Organization
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6 Ways to Optimize Performance Through Openness & Accountability

By: Ethan Schutz

Sometimes when I’m talking with someone about The Human Element and the work we do, a listener will ask what it means to create the Ideal Organization – our stated goal. After all, they often add, Ideal is a subjective term. It can mean anything you want it to mean. If we commit to going through this Human Element training, how will we know when we get ‘there’?

It’s a fair question. ‘Ideal’ for one may be above or below expectations for others, which is why it’s important to have terms clearly defined and understood prior to starting. The Ideal Organization has 9 defining characteristics. Each characteristic is crucial, and they’re all equally important.

An Ideal Organization features accountability. Everyone takes responsibility for their roles, and expects to be held accountable for their contributions. This corporate culture of personal responsibility means that blaming is kept to a minimum. When conflicts arise, a mutual sense of accountability keeps the focus on finding a solution.

An Ideal Organization is open. People within the Ideal Organization are empowered truth tellers, and enjoy the confidence that if they ask a question, they will be provided with an honest answer. Issues are addressed directly and simply as they arise, without creating gossip and secrets. This prompt openness helps eliminate both anxiety and resentment from the workplace dynamic.

An Ideal Organization encourages self-regard. When people feel good about themselves and the work they do, they neither seek nor need excessive praise or constant attention. They are aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, and personal circumstances. While merited recognition is appreciated, in the Ideal Organization, people are not dependent on it.

An Ideal Organization emphasizes job fit. Pairing an individual with the role within the organization that suits best is a process that requires flexibility, communication and time. In the Ideal Organization, employees have the confidence that management will work with them to identify the point of best fit, and that they’ll be treated with respect and dignity through the process. Honest self-appraisal is required of all parties.

An Ideal Organization practices sound decision making. Distributing decision making to the individuals most qualified to make the decision, coupled with an organizational commitment to helping teammates work well, is a key trait of the Ideal Organization. Competition is present only as a positive force, resulting in creativity, motivation and inspiring behaviors.

An Ideal Organization encourages personal development. The desire to achieve one’s best has a positive impact on employees’ professional and personal lives. Individuals are more self-aware and understand the relationship between physical and emotional and spiritual health with performance. People experience enjoyment from the workplace, and find their role personally satisfying.

An Ideal Organization has committed leadership. Leaders who can model desired behaviors and traits and are open about their own mistakes and uncertainties are integral to the Ideal Organization. In many ways, it is leaders who make connecting the ideal to the real possible: their example, enthusiasm, and encouragement of employees have tremendous impact.

An Ideal Organization is productive. The combination of openness, job fit, and other defining characteristics result in an environment where high-quality work is done efficiently. Each employee is working much nearer full capacity and the coordination among employees is highly developed.

An Ideal Organization generates results. A consideration of financial, social and environmental benchmark goals set will show meaningful progress, sustained at an acceptable rate, over the course of time.