Friday, March 03, 2017

Reassignment is Not Disgrace

"The Generals" by Thomas E. Ricks is one of the best books I've read in years, largely because of its many insights on the management of large organizations.

One of the personnel practices used by General George Marshall during World War II has caused me to give particular attention to termination decisions. If a combat commander didn't perform well, General Marshall often followed a practice of what Ricks calls "quick but not terminal relief." The commander would be relieved but without retribution; indeed, some redeemed themselves in future assignments.

There are obvious exceptions (and make no mistake, Marshall sacked a lot of officers), but simply removing a person from an assignment strikes me as an option that deserves far more attention than it receives in many workplaces.


Crusty Old HR Manager said...

This is often the practice at my state agency. Where an employee might not be successful in this role, that role over there might be a better fit. Our success rate is about 50/50. When we are successful, it is because a thorough review of all aspects of the employee is completed (skill, will, attendance, trainability, etc.) and then compared to core competencies of the new job to ensure better fit. When we are not successful, it is because leadership chose to listen to their "heartstrings" rather than to follow the tried and true process. These end up being the riskiest terminations we conduct.

Michael Wade said...


That is very interesting and encouraging.