October 5, 2009

Bob Sutton’s Top 10 List

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:50 pm by ctennert

Flawed, Suspect, and Incomplete Assumptions about Managing People

1.  HR ought to be all about spotting, hiring, and breeding individual talent (HR could pack a bigger wallop by focusing on teams and networks more).

2.  HR should focus on finding, hiring, and developing the very best people (Bad is stronger than good – about 5 times stronger  — so screening-out, reforming, expelling the very worst people is more crucial to collective performance).

3. Find some great superstars and pay them whatever is necessary to keep them happy… and certainly a lot more than everyone else (The best organizations pay higher than competitors, but have more compressed pay).

4. Competition makes people, teams, and companies stronger  (Unless people and teams are rewarded for undermining one another rather than helping each other… dysfunctional internal competition is one of the most pervasive problems in American firms).

5. Harmony and having a shared vision are crucial to success (Perhaps for routine work; but creativity depends on battling over ideas. Part of HR’s job should be to teach people how to “fight as if they are right, and listen as if they are wrong”).

6.  The key to success is copying practices used by the best companies.  (The best companies may be succeeding despite rather than because of their HR practices).

7.  Every company needs a great performance review system.  (Are they really worth the time and effort? Do they do more harm than good?).

8. Taking a leadership position brings out the best in people. (This is a dangerous half-truth.  Giving people power over others turns them into self-centered jerks).

9.  The most important thing HR can do is to find and develop great senior leaders (Having an organization with a high proportion of good bosses is probably more important).

10.  The best organizations have the best people, “the people make the place.”  (There are huge differences in talent, but the best organizations typically have the best systems and not necessarily the best raw talent).

I find this list to be very true, and if all HR companies followed these guidelines, their companies would probably be much more successful.  The comment “fight as if you were right, and listen as if you were wrong” is interesting.  I believe it means having confidence and being open-minded.

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