Organization and Staffing – Ground Rule #3

This is the tenth in a series of posts that will describe what the CEO of the Reliance Electric Company thought about basic commitments, how the organization was going to operate and ground rules for managers. Once again, all the content of this article is based on the work of B. Charles Ames as outlined in his management manifesto titled Basic Management Concepts dated January 14, 1974.

Organization and Staffing – Ground Rule #3

“Every manager should have a backup person who is potentially better qualified for the manager’s job than the manager is himself.” CEOs of smaller firms balk at this one. They claim they do not have the layers of staffing and over-staffing that would allow this redundancy. Ames would disagree.

As he points out, this potentially better qualified backup ground rule does not necessarily mean that the manager’s staff should be expanded. It does mean that people in the organization who do not have the qualifications or potential should be weeded out and replaced with people that have real ability and potential. Further, if the manager determines that he or she does not have anyone in the organization that had the potential to be such a contributor, that manager was to make it a “top priority” to recruit, select and hire an individual that did.

CEOs like Ames did not use terms like “top priority” without careful consideration. He believed that ensuring this backup capacity was critical to the long term health of the organization.

Reliance Electric was developing leaders who could step up to the next rung on the management ladder. Without a logical successor in place, good managers could not move up and accept greater leadership roles.  They were stuck in their current position by their own failure to have a clearly visible, logical successor in place at all times. Ames cautioned that no manager had the right to feel good about his or her performance until Ground Rule #3 was satisfied.

  1. Chuck Ames and his wife Jay currently manage the Ames Family Foundation.  They divide their time between a home in Vero Beach, Florida and a second home in a suburb of Cleveland.