Yesterday, FORTUNE interviewed retired GE CEO Jack Welch, whose management principles have been coming under attack, recently.
Defending every one with simplicity and logic, Welch went on to say that the idea of rank ordering your employees as to their relative effectiveness is still a good practice, and it isn’t in any way, “cruel, ” as its detractors contend.
“It's all about fielding the best team, ” Welch said. “It's been portrayed as a cruel system. It isn't. The cruel system is the one that doesn't tell anybody where they stand. ”
Consider that last line, which to some might be a throwaway, but it’s critical.
“The cruel system is the one that doesn’t tell anybody where they stand. ”
A salesperson identifies a prospect, gets in touch, visits, and is asked to submit a proposal.
He follows up not once but several times, and yet his calls are dodged and his emails are unanswered. That’s CRUEL, but it’s not an isolated incident.
Closer to that which Welch is speaking of, countless people in our economy receive no viable feedback on their performances. They haven’t a clue as to whether the jobs they’re doing are unacceptable, acceptable, good, or superior.
They could be reengineered, downsized, tossed out the door tomorrow, or have their job outsourced to another part of the world for all they know.
I’ve seen this in customer service and technical support departments that not only have failed to adopt objective criteria for monitoring, measuring, and managing the work but that actively resist telling people where they stand.
This is not only bad management; it’s cowardice, and it impeaches the integrity of the entire organization.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books, over 700 articles, and the creator of numerous audio and video training programs, including “The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable, " published by Nightingale-Conant-a favorite among salespeople and entrepreneurs. For information about booking Gary to speak at your next sales, customer service or management meeting, conference or convention, please address your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org .