“There is no such thing as a perfect record in making people decisions. Successful executives follow five ground rules. First, the executive must accept responsibility for any placement that fails. To blame the non-performer is a cop-out. The executive made a mistake in selecting that particular person. But second, the executive does have the responsibility to remove people who do not perform. The incompetent or poor performer, when left in his or her job, penalizes all others and demoralizes the entire organization. Third, just because a person doesn’t perform in the job he or she was put in doesn’t mean that that person is a bad worker whom the company should let go. It only means that he or she is in the wrong job. Fourth, the executive must try to make the right people decisions for every position. An organization can only perform to the capacity of its individual workers; thus people decisions must be right. And fifth, newcomers best be put in an established position where the expectations are known and help is available. New major assignments should mainly go to people whose behaviors and habits are well known and who have already earned trust and credibility.”
–Peter F. Drucker
The sentence in this passage that has had my attention these past weeks is: “The incompetent or poor performer, when left in his or her job, penalizes all others and demoralizes the entire organization.” This is the reason to try hard to follow these demanding Drucker rules for making people decisions. The overall objective of Drucker’s management system is to produce a high spirit of performance in an organization—to thrill those inside and outside with results. These organizations are led by people of integrity who put the mission of the organization above their personal objectives and who are competent enough to make sure that people are in positions where their strengths are being used fully and their weaknesses are sheltered.
[EXPAND More]A high performing organization believes in its mission, and its members are devoted to helping one another achieve results—they receive intrinsic rewards from the collective efforts of the team and everyone shares in the joy of mission accomplished. But, in many respects, the organization is only as strong as its weakest link and people should be placed in positions where they are able to perform their role in the mission of the organization. How do we know when we are in a highly spirited organization? There is a contagion effect every day, and each person feeds off the enthusiasm and performance of the other and becomes more effective in the process. Results are usually apparent to those outside who have the chance to see the excitement that is part of the team and who long for such a work environment. People in the wrong place or those not performing up to their potential and up to the standards of the group create a drag on the energy of the whole. They limit what is possible.
But I leave you with an example of how one can tell when everyone is placed properly and performing according to mission. We have all witnessed live performances of various kinds. Once the performance of a highly spirited team is over, the audience spontaneously breaks out in applause. They are all in agreement and arrive at their assessment independently and simultaneously. You can be pretty sure that this kind of organization is filled with people who are placed well, according to their strengths, and are each aiding the organization in achieving extraordinary performance. It feels like heaven on earth to be a part of this kind of organization.