IT Employment

Management by the Golden Rule

Marshall Larsen, CEO of Goodrich Corporation, has developed a sweeping talent management program that others should emulate.

I recently heard Marshall Larsen, CEO of Goodrich Corporation, speak. Goodrich is commonly known as a manufacturer of auto tires, although the company spun off its tire and rubber business in the late 1980s and has since become a nearly $7 billion Fortune 500 powerhouse in the aerospace and defense industry.

Mr. Larsen detailed the various divisions and aspects of his company and then spent a significant portion of his talk focusing on the efforts Goodrich has made to treat its employees better. He mentioned a shift from "Thou shall not"-style HR management, where employees were admonished against every conceivable improper behavior, to assuming the majority of employees would do the right thing in areas like sick leave and bereavement absences.

In addition to this frank assessment of human decency, Mr. Larsen detailed a sweeping effort to better identify, grow, and leverage internal talent. In many large companies, internal positions might be filled from an executive's small pool of "known talent" or put out for an external hire, all while a highly qualified person who would be perfect for the role sits undiscovered in a different division or branch down the org chart. Under Mr. Larsen's tenure as CEO, he developed a sweeping talent management program that offers up qualified candidates from across the organization whenever an opening occurs. He also "walks the talk," spending significant time evaluating people across the organization, including his direct reports and "rising stars," to ensure each are thoroughly and fairly moved up the ranks of the company and provided the appropriate tools and coaching for success along the way.

While none of these initiatives are revolutionary, the candor and evident belief in the value of these policies struck me as Mr. Larsen spoke. Many companies have fine, glossy posters and flowing speeches extolling these types of programs, yet few invest the effort to make them successful across the organization.

As a consultant I have spent a good portion of my career advocating changes like these, and the key factor between success and failure is the involvement and passion of the executive sponsor. It's all too easy to write a check to a vendor, provide some training, or buy in to the "methodology du jour" and pat yourself on the back for moving the team or company forward, but far more difficult for a leader to embrace a change and become visibly and personally vested in its success. As I listened to Mr. Larsen I began to wonder what ignited his passion for Goodrich's people and how that might be applied to other companies.

I spoke to him briefly after his presentation and posed that very question, expecting perhaps that some management treatise had inspired him or a particularly effective internal or external personality had lit an intellectual spark. He reflected for a moment and said that he had spent the better part of three decades working up the ranks at Goodrich, and as CEO wanted to treat others with the respect he would like to have been treated with on his journey to CEO; in effect using the "Golden Rule" as a guiding force to drive HR policy. The simplicity of the answer struck me, as well as the subtext that this was obviously the right thing to do, and even asking the question was a bit odd.

We've made unfortunate strides toward dehumanizing the workforce and our policies toward our people, ranging from the various euphemisms for firing people (right-sized, RIF'ed, decruited, etc) to putting a great technician or salesperson into a management role without any training or assistance, only to watch them flounder and be fired or leave. In this environment, management according to the Golden Rule is refreshing for its instant accessibility, combined with a high standard of excellence.

While I can almost hear the eyes rolling and thoughts of "that would never work here", consider that Goodrich is a $7B company with a wide-ranging product portfolio, global reach, and massive global workforce of over 25,000 employees. When a simple, core value like treating others with the respect you'd like to be treated with guides your operating principles, great things can happen at any organization.

Patrick Gray is the founder and president of Prevoyance Group and author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. Prevoyance Group provides strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at patrick.gray@prevoyancegroup.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com.

About

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent ...

17 comments
danielsweb
danielsweb

Workplaces need to give more incentive for workers to work harder. Right now, tell me? Why would I work twice as hard as the guy sitting next to me on an hourly rate? Just to get more work! The golden rule is happy productive workers and motivation for workers to work harder. Success must be rewarded.

insuranceman1
insuranceman1

My dad just retired from Goodrich at the Akron offices and he has only incredible things to say about his time there. It must be a pretty inspiring company if employees are still singing its praises after 44 years of service.

mickomelin092
mickomelin092

Yep Indeed The golden rule still works: take care of your employees and they'll take care of you. It's just unfortunate that most companies only look at things from a "what have you done for me lately" instead of a "what have you done and what _could_ you do" mentality. Indeed it make alot of sense about context territory war territory war online

Goodrich cleveland
Goodrich cleveland

Having worked for Goodrich for 30yrs.let me tell you,the management surrounds itself with people dumber than they are.If you do have talent,your either pigeon holed or fired,I've seen this mostly since 2000.Marshall should look at his companies and listen to employees and stop trying to be something he wishes he was. Ask him about all the talent he is letting go in landing gear,and replacing with cheaper talent from McDonalds.

emaname
emaname

That IS the way management should work. I worked for a company that had that same philosophy. It was a phenomenal experience. The whole organization was galvanized with energy and motivation to make certain our customers were happy and to be relentlessly better than our competitors. And we were unbelievably successful. Then GE bought us and everything went down the toilet. Once again proving that Jack Welch didn't know jack.

blarman
blarman

The real focus that Larsen took was to focus on the long-term profitability of his company. When you have people that are enthusiastic about the company and know that the company is looking out for them, they will go out of their way to perform. This is similar to the way HP worked back before Lou Platt took over and the management philosophy changed. At that time HP was consistently doubling its stock value every 2-3 years and was not only one of the most profitable businesses, but consistently rated one of the best places to work and got the best talent as a result. Now, unfortunately, HP is no longer in that position. The golden rule still works: take care of your employees and they'll take care of you. It's just unfortunate that most companies only look at things from a "what have you done for me lately" instead of a "what have you done and what _could_ you do" mentality. It's a win-lose vs win-win, yet most business leaders don't see it.

Englebert
Englebert

...against the suck-up-to-the-boss rule

jrhue
jrhue

I have seen several times a company with a policy that would not allow someone's pay to increase more than a certain percentage or amount per year or evaluation period. To jump from an entry level or "broom pushing" position to a position that an MBA or very good salesperson is truly skilled at would not be allowed. They then must leave the company and go to another. After a year or so, they can then come back to the original company because they are then a "new hire" and the policy that held them down before no longer applies. This is truly insanity and has harmed more than one Fortune 500 company.

OakvilleMyKey
OakvilleMyKey

The first thing I did was see if they are hiring. I would love to work for a company that offers a work environment that believes you are valuable. I work in an organization that believes daddy knows best and you have to just shut up and do what we tell you to.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

99.99999999999999999% of the places I've worked at the golden rule was most definitley not in place, the complete lack of trust in general of the workforce is endemic. Anything from did you really have a cough, to did you write than line of code correctly. It's not really a change to the processes and rules, just a switch of emphasis. Our firm for instance put out a generic appraisal objective "Take control of your learning and development" I said it should have been "Demonstrate that you have taken control of your learning and development". A small thing, but their wording indicates a particular prejudice. .

ojvazquez
ojvazquez

For me the question would be ??are this management style applicable to any organization? Or just the high profitable ones?. I think the golden rule should be used in every organization, this would make a better society.

bclomptwihm
bclomptwihm

The one with the gold makes the rules

JG2000
JG2000

Mr. Larsen has discovered a truth by working through his organization. I work in an organization that does about 60 times the business that Goodrich does, with 1.6 million employees in the USA alone. I am working a $12/hour position while having an MBA degree and working on a doctorate in management and organization leadership. The point is that with my skills and education, it has been made very plain to me that working in a position that is commensurate with my experience is making too large a jump in the organization. Going from $25k to $125K is too unseemly,thus I, along with many others in the workforce remain underemployed until I find the organization which will recognize what I have to offer. In summary, I think that I would have a better chance in Mr. Larsen's organization, what ever that organization might be.

ranshire
ranshire

The upper crust of a company that implements rules such as these to keep the grunts in the grunt work is afraid that once a grunt has risen to the challenge they will see that the upper crust is only a bunch of smoke and mirrors. The upper crust has only rode out the wave of fortune that the company has provided and they have no desire to see their house of cards fall down. I applaud the CEO of Goodrich to try and break out of the cycle that humans can't do what is right unless they are told to. To ensure the loyalty of those in his employ by showing them that they are able to have their skills recognized and to be put into a position that will not only enhance their way of life and further the company, but truly make them happy at their position is a rare and beautiful thing. I to should see if they are hiring. He is also a man that is secure in his own position which allows him to raise his employees up. Those that live by a 'what have you done for me lately' attitude are greedy profit hungry fools that should be banned and revolted against. but i digress... In this day and age, the short term profit margin when laid against employee moral and well being takes the focus. When companies are failing fast or one hit wonders, they will not worry about the employees that got the company to the point it is at, but line their pockets with as much cash as possible before the ship sinks. My hope is that one day, we will see more companies that take the advice of this man. Spread the word my friends... perhaps we can convince our superiors that this is a better company, America, World in the making.

shkfaizalam
shkfaizalam

Robin is right, as per industry experience, it's true that " The one with the gold, makes the rules"

teri2332
teri2332

Vincent, our culture is based on the Goodrich People Philosophy (GPP): which the tentants are: 1. Mutual Trust and Respect (adult to adult behavior); 2. Eliminate the negatives (assume the positives); 3. Two-way communication (NOT parent to child); 4. Training and development (empower employees = employee engagement); 5. Competive wages and compensation; and 6. The One Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated Are we perfect - no. Are we all working on these 6 tenants - yes! We also embrace the Accountability model not the "victim" role. Check out Goodrich by going to: www.goodrich.com Teri Wheeler Global Talent Acqusition Manager Goodrich, SIS-Minnesota