From Peter Drucker’s essay Focus on Contribution
Knowledge workers in an organization do not have good human relations because they have a “talent for people.” They have good human relations because they focus on contribution in their own work and in their relationships with others. As a result, their relationships are productive–and this is the only valid definition of “good human relations.” Warm feelings and pleasant words are meaningless, and indeed a false front for wretched attitudes, if there is no achievement in what is, after all, a work-focused and task-focused relationship. On the other hand, and occasional rough word will not disturb a relationship that produces results and accomplishments for all concerned.
From the essay Picking People–The Basic Rules
There is no such thing as an infallible judge of people, at least not on this side of the Pearly Gates. There are, however, a few executives who take their people decisions seriously and work at them.
[World War II US Army Chief of Staff] Marhsall and [General Motors former CEO] Sloan were about as different as two human beings can be, but they followed, and quite consciously, much the same principle in making people decisions.
1. If I put a person into a job and he or she does not perform, I have made a mistake. I have no business blaming that person, no business invoking the “Peter Principle,” no business complaining. I have made a mistake.
2. The soldier has a right to competent command was already an old maxim at the time of Julius Caesar. It is the duty of managers to make sure that the responsible people in their organizations perform.
3. Of all the decisions an executive makes, none is as important as the decisions about people because they determine the performance capacity of the organization. Therefore, I’d better make these decisions well.
4. The one “don’t”: Don’t give new people major assignments, for doing so only compounds the risks. Give the sort of assignment to someone whose behavior and habits you know and who has earned trust and credibility within your organization. Put a high-level newcomer first into an established position where the expectations are known and help is available.
We do not know how to test or predict whether a person’s temperament will be suited to a new environment. We can find this out only by experience. If a move from one kind of work to another does not pan out, the executive who made the decision has to remove the misfit, and fast. But that executive also has to say, I made a mistake, and it is my job to correct it. To keep misfits in a job they could not do is not being kind; it is being cruel. But there is also no reason to let the person go. A company can always use a good bench engineer, a good analyst, a good sales manager. The proper course of action–and it works most times–is to offer the misfit a return to the old job or an equivalent.
Executives cannot judge whether a strategic move is a wise one. Nor are they necessarily interested. “I don’t know why we are buying this business in Australia, but it won’t interfere with what we are doing here in Fort Worth” is a common reaction. But when the same executives read that “Joe Smith has been made controller in the XYZ division,” they usually know Joe much better than top management does. These executives should be able to say, “Joe deserves the promotion; he is an excellent choice, just the person that division needs to get the controls appropriate for its rapid growth.”
If, however, Joe got promoted because he is a politician, everybody will know it. They will all say to themselves, Okay, that is the way to get ahead in this company. They will despise their management for forcing them to become politicians but will either quit or become politicians themselves in the end. As we have known for a long time, people in organizations tend to be influenced by the ways they see others being rewarded. And when the rewards go to non-performance, to flattery, or to mere cleverness, the organization will soon decline to nonpeformance, flattery, or cleverness.