Sometimes, especially when we are rushing to keep up with the speed of business, we can allow ourselves to rush to judgment or ‘go with our gut’ – and sometimes we get away with it. With People decisions, however, the down-side is just to great, as became clear to me on a recent client engagement. We all make mistakes, we are all fallible which is why we should avoid being judgmental – especially about people!

As always Peter Drucker says it best in just 2 paragraphs and 250 words, the second paragraph says it all and has helped at least one high-flying exec client to reappraise his behaviour this week:

No organization can do better than the people it has

People decisions are the ultimate – perhaps the only – control of an organization. People determine the performance capacity of an organization. No organization can do better than the people it has. The yield from the human resource really determines the organization’s performance. And that’s decided by the basic people decisions: whom we hire and whom we fire, where we place people, and whom we promote. The quality of these human decisions largely determines whether the organization is being run seriously, whether its mission, its values, and its objectives are real and meaningful to people, rather than just public relations and rhetoric.

Any executive who starts out believing that he or she is a good judge of people is going to end up making the worst decisions. To be a judge of people is not a power given to mere mortals. Those who have a batting average of almost a thousand in such decisions start out with a very simple premise: that they are not judges of people. They start out with a commitment to a diagnostic process. Medical educators say their greatest problem is the brilliant young physician who has a good eye. He has to learn not to depend on that alone but to go through the patient process of making a diagnosis; otherwise he kills people. An executive, too, has to learn not to depend on insight and knowledge of people but on a mundane, boring, and conscientious step-by-step process.

This pearl of wisdom is taken from a great book: The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done.

A couple of paragraphs a day – a great investment.