Helping People Win at Work
Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge
Overview: American Author and Management Expert Ken Blanchard partners with WD-40 CEO, Garry Ridge to enlighten the reader on how conventional management wisdom and annual sorting of employees into a distribution curve may be destructive to their team and their bottom line. Instead Ken Blanchard advocates that leaders and managers partner with their teams for performance to help them succeed or receive an “A” at their job. The genesis for this thought process came from Mr. Blanchard’s time as a college professor where he would regularly give his students the final exam at the beginning of the course to ensure everyone had the ability to receive an “A.” Mr. Blanchard’s exams were tough, no true/false or multiple choice, but he would partner with the students to ensure that they knew how to answer those tough questions. As CEO of WD-40, Garry Ridge implemented Mr. Blanchard’s philosophy of partnering with employees to ensure success which resulted in nearly double profit growth and increased employee satisfaction to an average of over 93%.
- In chapter 1, “Don’t Mark My Paper Help Me Get an A” (DMMPHMGAA), Garry Ridge explains that there needed to be a culture change to implement the DMMPHMGAA philosophy at the WD-40 company. One of the first steps was to implement a new performance system, and build a climate of trust to enable changing the culture from that of team to tribe. In this new performance system there was no distribution curve where managers or tribe leaders were forced to sort out their people into a few winners, a few losers, and a lot of average performers. Why is trust between the tribe member and tribe leader so essential in tribe members’ performance? How would holding tribe leaders responsible for tribe members’ performance change how the tribe leaders interact with tribe members? Why are clear goals important in the philosophy of “Don’t Mark My Paper Help Me Get an A”?
- In chapter 2, “Building the Right Culture,” Ridge points out that a company’s culture is “the way we do things around here,” and at WD-40 the culture needed to change before he could implement the new performance system. He implemented the change with five specific steps. How can a culture of learning change the way a unit behaves? What is the difference between a team and a tribe and which is more likely to lead to success? Are servant leaders crucial in building a culture of trust?
- In chapter 3, “My Leadership Point of View,” Ridge states, “Effective leaders are particularly willing to share their leadership point of view with the people with whom they work.” The values his employees can expect from him are caring, candor, mutual trust and respect, learning and teaching, and persistence. From his employees he expects good results and for them to enjoy their job. How can a tribe leader caring about a tribe members’ personal life help them to move from a “B” to an “A”? How does candor help to build a culture of trust? What role does the value of Caring play in the value of Candor?
- In chapter 4, “The Simple Truths about Helping People Win at Work,” Ken Blanchard lays out the twelve “simple truths” that will enable anyone to partner with people to help them to “get an A.”
- Performing Well: What Makes People Feel Good about Themselves -- People and results or mission are both important, but overemphasizing one or the other can cause problems. What happens if people are put over mission accomplishment always or vice versa?
- To Help People Perform Well, an Effective Performance management System Must Be Established – Three steps are mentioned as necessary, in your experience which one of the three steps is most important and which is the most neglected in the Air Force?
- It All Starts with Performance Planning -- Blanchard states that “All good performance starts with clear goals.” If a subordinate does not know what they are supposed to achieve, how can they possibly get an “A?” Why is it important for the supervisor and the subordinate to know what success or getting an “A” looks like?
- The Biggest Impact on Performance Comes from Day-to-Day Coaching -- Once goals are set a supervisor should always stay in constant communication with subordinates so both parties know how things are going and keep up-to-date on what is required to get an “A.” What does Partnering for Performance (PfP) look like?
- Trust is Key to Effective Coaching -- One of the most compelling and powerful results of the philosophy DMMPHMGAA is that subordinates tend to trust their supervisors because they see them as their performance partners in helping them to succeed. If the philosophy DMMPHMGAA builds trust and improves productivity why do you think more organizations do not use it, instead of relying on the distribution curve?
- The Ultimate Coaching Tool: Accentuating the Positive -- The key to developing a subordinate is to catch them doing something right. Once goals for a subordinate are clear, a supervisor should constantly seek to catch them doing something right and praise their efforts. Has accentuating the positive worked in your experience? Why is it important for supervisor and subordinate to work together as a team to get the subordinate an “A?”
- Redirection Helps Get Performance Back on Track -- Reprimands are for a “won’t do” attitude issue whereas redirection is for a “can’t do” skill problem. Why do you think it is important, if appropriate, to take some responsibility when a subordinate does not measure up/fails at a task?
- Deliver Reprimands with Caring Candor -- While a reprimand is normally construed as negative consequence, if it is done with caring candor, it can be a powerful motivator and wakeup call. Are reprimands (formal counseling, LOC, LOR) ever appropriate? Do you think you should ever express anger as part of step three? The final step of reaffirmation is often missed, why do you think that is?
- Performance Reviews Should Be About Retaking the Final Exam -- In the leadership philosophy DMMPHMGAA, the subordinate should never receive an annual feedback (EPR/OPR) that is a surprise. Is there ever a time that a supervisor should recommend a subordinate be shared with a competitor/removed from the Air Force? If the initial “Performance Planning” did not happen do you think it is it fair to rate subordinate down as a “B” or “C?”
- Developing and Sharing Your Leadership Point of View Is a Powerful Communicating Tool for Your People. Blanchard stated “effective leadership is a journey” and to be an effective leader each person should “have a clear, teachable leadership point of view” and be “willing to share it with and teach it to others,” especially with their subordinates. Why is it important to clearly articulate and model your leadership philosophy to your people?
- Servant Leadership Is the Only Way to Go. Servant Leadership seems to be often misunderstood and undervalued. Blanchard believes, “vision and direction get things started with leadership, but it’s the servant aspect that really makes things happen.” What is the difference between a Servant Leader and a traditional leader? Which leader would you rather work for? Why do you think Servant Leadership is misunderstood and undervalued, especially in the military?
- Celebrate Successes. When you find good stories in your organization you should celebrate them. When an organization celebrates the successes of its people it encourages others to emulate the positive behavior and helps them to feel good about the job, community, and world at large. Do you think celebrating successes really benefits an organizations’ performance? How can you accentuate the positive in your area of responsibility? Do you think that holding a manager responsible for helping a subordinate receive an “A” will produce positive results?