Ground Rule #6 – Dealing With Misfits

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 #6 – Dealing With Misfits

This is it. The granddaddy of all business problems. The inability of most managers to deal with misfits quickly and decisively. They get into the organization somehow. Poor selection, mostly. Values misalignment, perhaps. They are there. And, they are destructive.

You know the drill.

Marginal employees are given every opportunity to succeed. They are coached and prodded. They are rewarded for temporary improvement and threatened when the inevitable backsliding occurs. Managers agonize. Co-workers fret. Performance is sub-optimized.

Ames highlighted four types of misfits who are especially damaging.

– The individual who lacks integrity or intellectual honesty required to insure total trust.

– The politician who always has a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.
This individual is more interested in making the politically correct move rather
than doing what is right.

– People who are incompetent. Quite simply, employees who do not accomplish what is
expected of them in terms of job performance.

– Organizational bullies. Bastards to their subordinates. Sycophants to their bosses.

Jack Welch at GE was legendary for his 20-70-10 forced grid rankings of all employees and the determination to weed out the bottom 10 percent each year. It was also thought to be cruel and unusual punishment for GE people. As he points out in his book Jack: Straight from the Gut, however, the process to remove the bottom 10 percent of his people was just the opposite. Welch thought it was brutal to keep people around who were not going to grow and prosper. According to Welch, “there is no cruelty like waiting and telling people late in their careers that they don’t belong.”

Red Scott, a colleague of mine from Florida put it another way. “The best thing you can do for a good employee is fire a bad one.”

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.


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