For decades, General Electric practiced (and proselytized) a rigid system, championed by then-CEO Jack Welch, of ranking employees. Formally known as the “vitality curve” but frequently called “rank and yank,” the system hinged on the annual performance review, and boiled the employees’ performance down to a number on which they were judged and ranked against peers. A bottom percentage (10% in GE’s case) of underperformers were thenfired.
Jack Welch championed a lot of very bad stuff (e.g., work/life balance, HR), but the negativity of rank and yank is near the top, if not number one.
(As for GE’s stellar results keep under Welch keep in mind that businesses like GE Financial practically printed money until it all blew up.)
But times are changing.
According to Raghu Krishnamoorthy, the longtime GE exec in charge of Crotonville (GE’s in-house management school) “Command and control is what Jack was famous for. Now it’s about connection and inspiration.”
And to that end, GE has developed a new in-house app that basically does what I and others evangelized a decade and more ago.
The new app is called “PD@GE” for “performance development at GE” There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something.
If you don’t have the luxury of an app you can simplify it even further.
Care about your people.
Interact with your people.
Talk with your people.
Challenge your people.
Help them grow and advance — even when that means they leave for a better opportunity that you can’t provide.
Read what GE is doing and adapt it to your own group — whether your company does of not.
While agreeing about problematic sales cultures, he had a different take on culture in general.
His viewpoint, from someone who has been there/done that, may not be socially acceptable and could probably get him in trouble if posted on social media, but I can share it here — anonymously
Whether you’re a nigger or a bitch, this is the shit you have to deal with. I prefer environments where it’s obvious what the culture is, like this, than politically correct cultures where bigotry is the norm but you never onto why you won’t get the bonus, promotion or accolade with superior performance. Screw political correctness!
I believe it’s important to know where you stand, because then you can make informed choices. Give me this culture anytime – when I enter, I will know what the rules are. If I stay, it’s to accomplish a particular personal goal. When I leave (if not immediately), I will know why I stayed, left, and what I gained. I’m richer, they are poorer.
There is no such thing as “politically correct”. The term itself is an oxymoron that implies consensus building, popular sentiment or sinister machinations. Politics is about popularity — we never let others know where we stand or what we stand for in order to win a popularity contest. It is giving in to the tyranny of the mob, not daring to have unpopular opinions or stances, because one will not be popular.
Being a black man, I prefer a racist that’s honest about who he is and what he is. I prefer working for such a person because I know what to expect. I presume it would be the same for you as a woman regarding sexists. These days no one is a racist, we just have “unconscious biases” that prevent us from taking unpopular positions and that ensure that the powerful can continue to exclude the less powerful.
Politically correct environments rob me of information, choice, and the ability to navigate astutely to attain my objectives.
In bygone days the ‘my father can beat up your father’ was a favorite taunt.
These days it’s more often ‘my father earns more than your mother’.
So goes the gender pay gap and has since women entered the workforce.
Much has been written and many hands have been wrung over the disparity of pay between men and women doing the same job.
But the bias isn’t always intentional.
A vast majority of them are fair-minded guys who want women to succeed. They’re absolutely certain that they don’t have a gender problem themselves; it must be some other guys who do. Yet they’re leaders of companies that pay men more than women for the same jobs.
Now an intriguing idea has surfaced playing off the SEC’s new rule forcing companies to publish comparisons of how much chief executive officers take home compared with ordinary employees
The idea is to do the same between males/females within each company.
This would be especially interesting in tech, which admits that diversity may be a great goal, but won’t happen any time soon, even in companies which have made it a priority, such as Apple.
In the event the idea gains any traction you can assume enterprise will fight it as passionately — probably more — as it fought the CEO comparison, which took five years to become reality.
Without the force of law, how likely that the comparison could become a reality?
There are two ways that come to mind.
The first is to have a company step forward and offer the information voluntarily.
The second is that an internal whistleblower will publish the information anonymously on social media.
The second is far more likely, especially in the data-driven world in which today’s companies must operate.
If so, you aren’t doing your company, your people, your investors or yourself any favors.
In a 2012 post I quoted Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, regarding the need for financial controls and frugality during good times in order to survive the bad ones.
The number of leaders, investors, academics and others who have recognized the impact culture has on success is as diverse as it is numerous — ‘culture eats strategy for lunch’ didn’t become a catchphrase by accident.
“The single largest issue that causes the most emotional heartache in a startup is people challenges. Every organization has them. If you put best HR practices into place in the earliest days and are doing the right things right, you’ll have fewer and fewer issues and blowups.”
If you want to build a successful company you need a solid base that includes a consciously designed culture based on your values, financial controls/accountability that engender frugality and best HR practices that enhance growth, while protecting the company.
Reading/listening/watching the quantity of cyber stuff we all receive, whether by email or social media, is daunting.
It’s worth it, however, because now and then You’ll find a real jewel among all the costume jewelry and plain, old junk.
As I did with this one,
Today, I asked my mentor, a very successful business man in his 70s, what his top 3 tips are for success. He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”
which makes a great mantra for every entrepreneur.
Finally, scientists (two men, for the record) are urging an end to the Great Arctic Office Conspiracy. Their study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, says that most office buildings set temperatures based on a decades-old formula that uses the metabolic rates of men. The study concludes that buildings should “reduce gender-discriminating bias in thermal comfort” because setting temperatures at slightly warmer levels can help combat global warming.
Just as a too warm office can slow people down and make them sleepy, so can a too cold office.
Bosses can alleviate the problem to some degree.
If your physical space operates by zones rearrange workers based on their temperature needs, as opposed to functional or gender lines.
If there is only one central control raise the temperature or at least try splitting the difference.
Provide snuggies, blankets and space heaters when needed.
Treat it as the problem it is and not as a joke or gender weakness.
While addressing the problem may have little-to-no impact on global warming, it could have a substantial impact on your talent acquisition and retention.
Henry Ford figured it out in 1914 when he doubled his workers’ daily wage. He did so on the assumption that they would spend the additional money on stuff beyond subsistence needs and he was right — they bought Fords.
Companies today still haven’t learned that lesson and continue to treat workers as disposable, fighting the idea of a living wage and crying that the cost will destroy them.