Organization and Staffing – Ground Rule # 5

This is the next 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 #5 – Performance Expectations

 Let’s personalize this Ground Rule a bit. In Basic Management Concepts Ames told every manager to make sure that every individual in the manager’s line of authority knew precisely what was expected in terms of job performance, how the individual’s assignment fit into the whole and how the individual’s performance would be measured. As a manager, how would you rate yourself on these three criteria? Experience suggests that most managers would not average above a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. And that is where the trouble begins.

Ames argued that each individual needed to have a pre-established set of specific results that the individual knew he or she was expected to accomplish within a defined time frame. The specific results had to be measureable so there would be no misunderstanding about what was going to get done. The results of the individual’s accomplishment would serve as the performance standard for how well the individual performed.

Most managers dread performance evaluations. And, for good reason. The lack of clearly defined performance expectations is a leading cause of dysfunctional performance reviews. People who didn’t exactly know what was expected of them up front tend to become somewhat defensive when they are told their performance sucked…after the fact.

Ames went on to say that the organization’s entire system of rewards and penalties should be aligned with expectations and accomplishment. “And, the payoff should always be for achieving results, not just effort.” The individuals who met and exceeded expectations should be recognized, paid well and eventually promoted. Those who did not perform should expect more limited compensation and lesser advancement opportunities. Ultimately, they may have to leave the organization. More on this when we get to Ground Rule #6 – Dealing With Misfits.

B. 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.