Today is Saturday, October 19th and we are on day two of a trip that takes us from Southern California back to the Seattle area. What a beautiful drive up Route 5. Staring at the passing landscape for literally hours on end tends to make you think random thoughts and mine have been centered on all the EEOC cases I’ve been reading lately on many varying forms of harassment in the workplace. The one problem area that keeps bothering me is that all levels of management have been involved in these cases, seemingly missing the point that they are significant cogs in the organization for modeling the way people treat each other.
I feel that there is some disconnect with management in these EEOC cases and wonder if the problems result from management that do not know the law or if the matter rests simply on individual ignorance or arrogance? Do these people truly never question their own actions and if so, how does one go about their work life, observing and managing the actions of subordinates but never flipping the lens over to self evaluate?
I would guess that the number of organizations in the lime light for harassment problems only represents a small percentage of the actual numbers nationwide. This is a troubling thought and the reason I decided I would start reading articles from some of the great people management gurus on Saturdays going forward (time permitting).
Today I will start with Peter Druker’s article on How to Make People Decisions. This does not speak specifically about managing harassment but rather looking from a higher view on hiring the right people from the start.
Here are the main ideas from Druker for this article.
People decisions are long lasting in their consequences and difficult to unmake. At most one third of such decisions come out right. Executives who take their people decisions seriously will find the following helpful:
1. Take responsibility for the decision – if the person the executive places in a position does not perform, the executive has made a mistake;
2. It is the duty of managers to make sure that the responsible persons in their organizations perform;
3. Make the decision well;
4. Don’t give new people major new assignments.
Points that I really think make sense, even today:
- It is not intuitively obvious to most people that a new and different job requires new and different behavior.
- Widow-makers, jobs that regularly defeat even good people – appear most often when a company grows or changes fast.
- Whenever a job defeats two people in a row, who in their earlier assignments had performed well, a company has a widow maker on its hands. When this happens, a responsible executive should not ask the headhunter for a universal genius. Instead abolish the job. Any job that ordinarily competent people cannot perform is a job that cannot be staffed. Unless changed, it will predictably defeat the third incumbent the way it defeated the first two.
- As we have known for a long time, people in organizations tend to behave as they see others being rewarded. And when the rewards go to nonperformance, to flattery, or to mere cleverness, the organization will soon decline into nonperformance, flattery, or cleverness.