Perf Improvement LO14708

John Constantine (
Sat, 16 Aug 1997 14:02:53 -0700

Replying to LO14651 --

Sorry for the delay Clyde but the system ISP was down and I was wading
through volumes of messages recently. I do appreciate your post and I'd
like to try to chat in a little softer "voice", if you will permit.

[Host's Note: And... this was further delayed because the list was
"off-the-air" for a week. ...Rick]

You mentioned something which struck me:

>We say that we would like this organization to exist, but getting there
>from what currently exists in most situations requires that such
>"inanities" as employee development and performance improvement be
>used to change employee, as well as organizational, outlooks..."

I think we all would like "this organization" to exist, yes I do, but
there is a point which has to be a marked departure from what was before,
and I would challenge those who want to have both to explain how to do so.
I don't make that claim, because (as I've said in other posts recently) I
don't think it is possible.

Beyond that, there is IMO only one choice, whether to maintain the current
arrangement and all its many flaws and faults, many of which are unknown
to those in control of the system (management), or to make a clean break
down a completely different road, as if the other never existed.

A lot of posts make demands for "evidence", "objective data", etc., but I
would make the point that this is not a scientific process since we are
dealing with human beings, who do not simply do a, b, or c at the drop of
a hat. This of course makes life much more exciting, and difficult, for
those in leadership roles. What they must do increases as a result; what
they must know does also. So much of the processes contained in their
particular system are under their control, management and responsibility.
They might not even know how much or the impact on the other parts of the
system such as human resources.

If an employee could make the proposition that all management should
submit justification for all the actions taken to the employee for his or
her inspection, I wonder what we would learn. The supervisor is in a
position; does he/she know what they are doing? Do their actions ripple
through the organization, impacting the very employees they are expected
to evaluate?

What knowledge do they (leadership) have in systems theory, and systems
application? Do they believe that last year's budget require x percent
increase over this year's? Do they have a clue as to why that should be?

There are many similar questions, not designed to put management on the
defensive, but to bring to the attention of management their
responsibility for the care and feeding of the entire system. Not to
inflict pain, not to put up obstacles via policy and procedure, not to
manifest a negative attitude and expect a positive one in return.

All have a vested interest in the work they do, and the place they work.
Unless there is a good-faith, honest effort at improving the situation,
there will remain an organization bogged down by the status quo.

Paraphasing Einstein, as many have since, a system cannot know itself well
enough to correct its own faults. If it could have, it would have. Thus
there must be some means of turning on the light before the light itself
is broken and no longer repairable.

You also said:
>Those employees who have always performed at a set level over time often
>lose their jobs because they cannot keep up with or meet those demands.

I'd say that you were on a very slippery slope with this one. If that is
what you want to believe, that is one thing, but you don't have in your
pocket the reasons why such things happen, since you simply don't know.
There may be many, many reasons why such things occur, and much if not all
is due to the ineptness of management who want simple answers to all their
problems; ask the workforce to put out 1000 more than yesterday and those
who can, will. The others may lose their jobs based on nothing they did or
nothing that they could have done.

What was the "set level" you refer to? Did you ever take time to inquire
into an experiment entitled the "Red Bead experiment?" Life is not so easy
to explain, even it might seem so. How did the management know what the
"set" level was? How did they get the data, etc., etc. The fact may be
that many lost their jobs not due to anything they did, but to
management's ineptness.

Clyde, what I would agree with is your contention that the company would
be better off investing in their employees, present and future. Investing
in learning why things happen, and why they stay the same, and the causes
of each. Investing in their own future as a company by treating people
like humans instead of number crunchers. Acting as leaders, not bosses.
Colleagues, not masters.

After such a long process as the old system initiates, there is inevitably
the production of a stimulus-reponse pattern which takes time to dispel.
Trust can grow, but only when there is reason to do so. Human nature is
still playing its part.

So, what I am saying (again) is that there is difficulty in dealing with
discussions of "improving this" and "developing that" until there there is
the basic understanding on the part of management as to:

1. the depth of management's responsibility;
2. the need for "re-learning" on the part of management;
3. the untapped potential of its workforce;
4. the connection between quality, efficiency and productivity;
5. what it does to degrade a human being through such flawed mechanisms
as evaluations, appraisals and rankings;
6. an understanding of why the business IS IN business, and what its
committment to the future happens to be.

Clyde, I appreciate what you've offered in the past and what you will
offer in the future. Remember how you felt when someone told you that you
"couldn't do that here." Or, "that doesn't happen in THIS business." It
was a bit of a crunch on the enthusiasm was it not?

Today's traditions are yesterday's bright ideas. It simply doesn't HAVE to
be so. There is no need for destruction here, but there is a great need
for change and growth. And both change AND growth hurt.

(And I've never gone by the name of Roger...sorry.) Take care. :)


Regards, John Constantine Rainbird Management Consulting PO Box 23554 Santa Fe, NM 87502 "Dealing in Essentials"

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