Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Light of Day Test

"Perceptions are real to those who hold them."

I don't remember where I first heard this phrase or even if it was a quote from someone, but in my experience I have found there is great truth in it.

How one measures the "value" of someone to an enterprise is like talking about "quality." It is a subjective term, and obviously means different things to different people.

It has also been my experience that if someone is judged to have significant "value" to a business and is recognized for this by way of title, compensation or otherwise, the real test for those who have made the judgment comes when the decision is made public.

When I was in the corporate world we used to call this "the light of day test" and on more than one occasion it was a good notion to apply to actions before deciding whether or not to take them be they personnel moves or otherwise because once made public, it didn't take long to see and sense if the person's peers as well as the rest of the organization agreed or disagreed with the action.
We still seeem to live and work in a world where "score" is kept on lots of different criteria and AIG, etc. notwithstanding I doubt this sort of score keeping is going to go away anytime soon, and as speechless as I am at what we have all heard and read over past few weeks, I am not even arguing that it should.

At the end of day, if the decisions that senior leaders make in terms of handing out kudos (monatary or otherwise) pass the light of day test first, they are probably not going to find themselves the lead story on the 24/7 news cycles for weeks at a time.

Someone much smarter than I am taught me a long time ago that as managers we really get paid to do just three things: hire, fire, and evaluate.

Translation: We are paid to exercise judgement and what makes that so uncomfortable at times is that subjective judgement is just that. I can't defend it other than to say "after considering all the factors, this is what I feel is the right thing to do (i.e. this is my belief).

Beliefs come from personal value systems and where value systems are absent or broken we get the Madoffs of the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points, Dave. LIke you, I don't know yet what to make of all the new events of the last thirty days or so. I hate government getting in our businesses, but I am shocked at the tone-deafness of some senior executives. My mantra has been that too often, 'the' public paints CEO-Types with a negative brush, resulting in things like Sarbanes-Oxley. Now, I fear, upcoming rules and regulations will make SOX seem like a Boy Scout code. When they start picking winners and losers, and they are already by allowing some to fail and others not, some of us don't understand the tilt of the playing field. Just tell us the rules.
www.LINKUP.com (w/o question THE best job board today)