Winning Well: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: June 6th, 2016 by bobmorris

Winning WellWinning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results – Without Losing Your Soul
Karin Hurt and David Dye
AMACOM (2016)

How to build a workforce culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive

It is no coincidence that companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also among companies annually ranked as most profitable and having the greatest cap value in their industry segment. However different they may be in most respects, all have a high percentage of personal accountability at every level and in every area of the given enterprise.

Throughout the last Industrial Revolution, factories were built to accommodate the needs of mass production and workers were trained to become machine-like in terms of their consistency and reliability. One of the inevitable results of this “efficient” and “productive” process was a relentless dehumanization of workers. The primary task of managers was to sustain workers’ consistency and reliability.

This brief background helps to explain what Karin Hurt and David Dye mean by “winning well” as opposed to “winning at any cost.” They assert — and I agree — winning means “you and your people succeed at doing what you’re there to do. The real competition isn’t the department across right building or the organization across town. Yo9ur competition is mediocrity…Winning Well means that you sustain excellent performance over time, because you refuse to succumb to harsh, stress-inducing shortcuts that temporarily scare people into ‘performing.’ You need energized, [self-] motivated people all working together.” That is why the primary responsibility of managers today is to establish and then sustain a high percentage of personal accountability at every level and in every area of the given enterprise.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Hurt and Dye’s coverage:

o Winning Well principles (Pages 10-18)
o Users (18-20)
o Pleasers (21-22)
o Games (22-23)
o Assessment (26-27)
o Performance management (35-36)
o Meetings (46-54)
o Decisions (56-61)
o Ownership of decisions (59-61)
o Accountability (62-70)
o Feedback (65-66 and 148-149)
o INSPIRE method for accountability (65-69
o Problem solving (71-81)
o Terminating employees (98-105)
o Momentum (118-1127)
o Displaying trust to employees (120-122)
o Team and problem solvers (128-129)
o Technologies for communicating (157-158)
o Building influence (203-213)
o “Boss” attitudes (217-225)
o Conversations (220-222)
o Self-motivation (234-243)

Hurt and Dye stress throughout their lively and eloquent narrative the four principles of Winning Well:

CONFIDENCE: “Know your strengths, own them, and use them. Stand up for what matters. Speak the truth [especially to power].” Please see pages 11-12 and 118-127.

HUMILITY: Have an accurate self-image. Admit mistakes. Invite the challengers [i.e. encourage principled dissent].” Please see pages 12-14 and 222-225.

RESULTS:
“Clarifiy. Plan. Do.” Please see pages 15-16, 39-45, and 172-173.

RELATIONSHIPS: “Connect. Invest. Collaborate.” Please see pages 6-18, 48-49, and 180-190.

There are no head-snapping revelations among them, nor do Karin Hurt and David Dye make any such claim. The valuable information, insights, and counsel that they do offer — in abundance — provides what is best viewed as a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effect system with proven methodologies that can help almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to establish and then nourish a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

What’s the “secret sauce”? In my opinion, it is having a high percentage of personal accountability at every level and in every area of the given enterprise. In this context, I am reminded of two observations. First, from William L. McKnight, the legendary CEO of 3M in 1924: “If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” More recently, from Peter Drucker: “So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” Workers are people, not machines or sheep, and managers must understand and appreciate that. Otherwise, Winning Well is impossible.

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