Organization and Staffing – Ground Rule #4 – Dealing with Advancing Age

This is the eleventh 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 #4 – Dealing with Advancing Age 

I am going to deviate a bit from my normal practice of simply repackaging the words Chuck Ames used in Basic Management Concepts for Ground Rule #4.  Ground Rule #4 deals with advancing age in the workforce.  Some of the content needs to be brought up to current EEOC standards.  Plus, there is some new research that suggests our opinions about the capabilities of older people in the workforce may not be quite accurate.  See “Why Everything You Know About Aging Is Probably Wrong” from the December 1, 2014 Wall Street Journal.

Ames wrote that some individuals, as they age, may reach a point where their job responsibilities exceed their energy levels and capabilities.  At some level this is certainly true and will indeed happen to us all.  Ames felt that the organization had an obligation to people who served it loyally.  He stated they should be paid fairly and given assignments where they could be successful.

He went on to say that older workers unable to make a continuing contribution needed to be removed from the mainstream.  He figured it wasn’t fair to the individual or the corporation to leave people in roles where they were likely to be unsuccessful.  An appropriate ground rule, regardless of age, I would add.

In conclusion he wrote that advancing age alone should not be a reason to exclude anyone from consideration for an assignment.  He stated there is nothing more wasteful than bypassing an experienced individual because of age even though that individual has the drive and energy to be successful.

Certainly an excellent ground rule whether it is 1974 or 2015.

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. 




Odds ’n Ends from Phil Hauck | Retirement Age, National Debt, TEC Meetings, and More!

On Retirement Age

This notion of having a Retirement Age, when the government begins making substantial payments to citizens, isn’t new.  It began in 1889 in  Germany.  The average life expectancy was 40, and the Retirement Age was set at 70, later reduced to 65.  For us, it began during the Depression, when average life expectancy was 61; it was set at 65; half the people were dead before these Old Age payments set in.  Today, our average life expectancy is about 79, yet the Retirement Age is still 65.

Corollary:  The federal budget-killer of just about every Scandinavian and European country is the government making payments to its people at around 60-65 years of age, even though life expectancy is much greater.  Like what we’ve now arrived at, they can no longer afford a defense budget because federal spending is taken over by Retirement Age and health care spending.

Also of interest, in most of Europe, the Fertility Rate is currently at about 1.3-1.5 children per woman, well below the 2.1 replacement level (that the U.S. is at thanks to the influx of Hispanics).  This means that they very quickly will have fewer and fewer working age adults to pay for those retirees.  Indeed, these levels foretell a shrinking of the population, and therefore their economies.  Their outlook as viable nations is very poor.  (These poor stats also apply to Russia and Japan.)  For more information, click here.

National Debt and Its Implications

How come we still aren’t hearing a lot about this approaching crisis … and its implications?Just sayin’!

Told at a Recent TEC Meeting, about a Koch Brother

The Koch brothers receive lots of abuse for their contributions to conservative causes.  What isn’t heard, though, is their astuteness as business leaders.  Recently, a senior executive of a TEC company who has worked at companies owned by the Koch brothers, such as the local Georgia-Pacific plant, but others as well, told this story:  When Charles Koch walked through one of his company’s plants, he would ask an operator, “Who owns this equipment?”  The response often, “You do, sir.”  The correct response:  “I do, sir.”

He required techniques that created team-based approaches that “focused relentlessly on Reliability.”  He contended that “Reliability focused organizations outperform Production-/Productivity-focused ones, and there is research that supports that.  Interesting.

The approach was to create Reliability teams, a replacement for Maintenance.  Maintenance experts were “downloaded” for their expertise, which was provided to production crews for them to use on an ongoing basis.  The crews had to plan schedules several weeks in advance, and then document any variation, called an “unplanned event.”  The objective, obviously, to reduce the number of unplanned events, resulting in increased up-time, productivity, efficiency and ultimately profitability.  “People found this approach much more engaging.”

Another metric:  Number of improvement ideas.  The metrics that the Koch brothers cared about were the Leading Indicators and Forecasts.

Quotes from Recent TEC Meetings

  • “Make sure every employee loves his/her job.  People who are successful are doing what they love to do.  It’s the only path to being the best in the world.”
  • An expert on Emotional Intelligence at one meeting cited this quote from EI founder Dan Goleman:  “Out of control emotions (bullying, anger, nmicro-managing, etc.) make smart people stupid.”  She also said that micro-managing is often a reaction to the leader’s inability to control his/her anxiety, and to impose behaviors on others to compensate.
  • “I built a large garage.  We call it the ‘Garage-Mahal’.”