Nov 19, 2008

Sticking to The Standards.

I found this an interesting read, courtesy of Paul Glover. Posted with few changes, and my commentary is in red :o)

I’m pretty hard core about things when it comes to the workplace. I believe the workforce is divided into three segments: Core Employees – 20% of the workforce who are hardwired to give 110%; Temporary Employees – 60% of the workforce who have the potential to become Core Employees if properly trained and motivated; and The Others – 20% of the workforce who should have been fired yesterday. And, no, I don’t believe The Others will be anything but The Others regardless of how much time, energy and resources a Company expends on them. It would be better to take the time, energy and resources wasted on The Others (like that last raise The Others received just because it was company wide) and apply it to Core Employees who deserve it! I agree with this, HR sometimes has a tendency to push for generic standards, versus true pay for performance. All performance is not equal, and your Eagles should be rewarded, and your Mice should become food.

My management philosophy is pretty simple, but effective: Reward and Recognize those Employees who exceed expectations; train and motivate those Employees who have potential to exceed expectations and then give them a deadline to start exceeding expectations; and get rid of those Employees who do not have the potential or do not want to exceed expectations. But when I advise my clients on how to implement this highly effective approach to improving performance in the workplace, the first obstacle is not the Employees but the fact that management either has not established standards and expectations or is not constantly enforcing them! How true is this, do you know what it will specifically take to get a 5% raise versus a 1% raise? Do you have specific goals outlined to get you a promotion. I would say the answer to these questions will generally be "no".

Since I believe having good standards and high expectations and enforcing them are essential to maximizing profit, here are a few rules to start the process:

Ø Develop standards and high expectations. Include Core Employees in this process. Ø High expectations begin in the hiring process. Do not hire those who lack the mindset for good work (think Nucor which established facilities in rural areas where they knew they would hire the farmer mentality – hard work all day every day).

Ø Tell new Employees in orientation what the standards and expectations are and that they are expected to meet them. Use clear language. Leave no doubt in their minds! Ø Constantly communicate to everyone in the workforce by your words and actions what the standards and expectations are.

Ø Accept no excuses for unacceptable behavior that violates your standards. No way; no how! If you occasionally accept unacceptable behavior, in time you will routinely be accepting unacceptable behavior. Every exception weakens the standard and reduces profit.

Ø Periodically review the standards and expectations to determine if they still make sense for your Company. Do not change them to accommodate the Temporary Employees or The Others! If the Core Employees have a problem with them review and adjust if necessary.

Ø Enforce the standards by first disciplining and then terminating those who do not meet them. The Core Employees will applaud you; the Temporary Employees will be motivated to become Core Employees or leave; and The Others will know their day is coming.

Ø Supervisors and Managers who do not enforce appropriate standards and have expectations for their Work Team are classified as The Others!

The Bottom Line is: Does your Company have high standards and expectations? Does your Company communicate and enforce those standards and expectations?

Again, an allegory to every day life - do you have high standards and expectations? Do you stand behind those standards and values? Do your family and friend understand what makes you tick, what will allow them to soar with you, or to become food fodder? The key is to communicate and let your feelings and expectations be known.


  1. Wow, is that ever the truth. It's especially bad in professions that are hurting for workers, and I saw it all the time in health care. The attitude was, "What are they gonna do? FIRE me?" When certain people feel that termination isn't an option because a place is so desperate for workers, they will skate. It's up to management to make it clear that quality is important and necessary.


  2. It is true, but in most jobs I chose to to the people in charge put the others in charge! They kept the core people as temps, the temps became full time non workers! Then there was me who knew what he wanted, ans was promised to become management, because I was a Core worker! But later it was given to lazy friends or family, I guess I should have slacked more. I guess I should have not cared about making the job more efficant, or about the jobs being safe!

    Let me give you an example of the type of person I am. I started as a temp at an Electronics plant, then worked from the assembly line,to the machines and basic computers. I left on a Friday, to come back on Monday, only to discover I was one out of two people kept out of 77 people. I took every job posted on the boards, and was hated for that. Because I became a Tester/Inspector in less than a Month and A half! I was testing all the products before they left the building, using severval computers at once. Going to conference meetings with video screens, talking with other countries.

    A short while after that we had a shutdown, and I wanted to keep working. So, I asked if there was anything I could do? They said they needed a landscaper, or a some cleaning duties done in the building. I chose to clean for two weeks, and they were so impressed that they offered to help pay and start my own cleaning buisness. They gave me the choice to go to school, or do this. I chose to clean, and in no time I was in buisness with a couple employees. The bad news was after a year and a half, the company I started with lost 360 million dollars down south. So, they closed our facility. The good news was my wife and I were the last two people in the building.

    When I started that job, I knew nothing about electronics, or computers. I just kept positive, and learned everything I could, and fast. I had great trainers, and bosses who taught me what I needed to know. I was and am motivated, but still looking for another company who will take the chance and time for an emloyee? Forgive for such a long comment.

    I hope you have a great day tomorrow.


  3. Ken, I agree with you completely! The cookie-cutter mentality does nothing to increase productivity and customer service.

    The hospital where I work is merging with another (bigger) hospital in our area. I just had my yearly reveiw and my scores on every area where the highest possible scores given. I take great pride in my work and I think of it more as a calling (I'm a nurse) than a job. I give my all when I'm there and my heart is an involved as my mind. After my review, I was told that due to the merger and because we have to give the other hospital time to "catch up" to our pay scale, we would not be receiving raises this year and the rumor is that we won't receive them next year either. This is certainly not good for morale. However, it won't change the way I do my job. I guess I do it for more than the paycheck, but it sure would be nice if those scores on my review meant something tangible.

  4. I agree with what you are saying but I've seen the OTHERS get by day after day just because we have no one to replace them with. I have good work ethics and truly get no thanks or reimbursement for the job I do. I'm expected to maintain my high level of acheivemnt and do more if the need arises, but no recognition what so ever. I'm stuck in my position because of my age and have the hopes of retirement someday, at my stage it is easier to remain where I am rather than go elsewhere. The only plus side to it all is that they do pay a nice premium on my heath insurance. 'On Ya'-ma

  5. It's great in theory, especially at the workplace, but human nature can never be as pragmatic as it should be and if you have "others" in your management team.... well.. I don't see how they will ever be gone.

  6. Interesting. Not sure if I am in full agreement. If things are not established from the top down, then what is going to come back up is going to be suspect.

    At some point, management is going to have to take of its, 'velvet glove' and get dirty. That they do this periodically, is crucial to earning the respect that 60% and growing it, while the lower 20% begans to shrink.

    Expecting people to be as motivated for whatever reasons, IMO, is not the best way. If there has been a decision made to include them as a team memeber, then it is up to leadership to make the assesment of their decision and put that person in a place where they can be an asset. By finding them a place where they can be at the very least a contributing member of the company, you can then motivate and inspire.

    I think I have seen more people disillusioned by working under less than good leadership, than I have seen the lower 20% infect and spoil the work environment. You have crap employees when you have crap management. Just my opinion ...

  7. I do have to say one thing for the company I used to work for -- they had specific standards and everyone knew what they were. I used to do the orientations for the incoming temps, and each one knew what standards in quality and production were expected of them and in what time frame. There was one "rebel" temp, though, who would not do more than 100% in production, even though he was capable of giving 110%. He made the mistake of telling our manager this one day when she was doing an evaluation, so she called the temp agency and told them to tell him not to come back. He figured if he was getting 100% of the pay promised him, he should only have to give 100% of what was expected of him, and he let everyone know it. (There were some other issues, too, with this guy.) There were many of us who took pride in giving 110%, though.


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