Lee Iacocca: Let The Employees Manage Themselves

Iacocca supported management by Quarter Reviews at Ford Motor Company. Accountability to themselves as employees is more important than accountability to the boss. The employee will know whether they are doing well or not, and can effectively marshal, fire or promote themselves. You don’t want to intervene too early as a boss and a quarterly review system is ideal for self-assessment and goal setting. Iacocca would ask three questions of his line managers: 1) What is your goal for the next 90 days?; 2) What are your aspirations, dreams?; 3) How are you going to get there?

This allows workers to set their own agenda; making them more productive and motivated and this helps the best ideas bubble to the top. Once there was an agreement in goals, goals would be written down and signed off on. For Lee, putting objectives down on paper forces you to get down to specifics. Understanding what you have achieved, what is to be accomplished next and how to go about it is crucial to self-accountability. The quarterly reviews also create a dialogue between the manager and his boss so that good workers do not get passed over and their working relationship usually improves through interaction. If someone is not appropriate for a given role then red flagging it sooner than later is always better for everyone. Iacocca is skeptical of moving people around from role to role however because specialization has to set in at some point.

This is a synopsis & analysis based on Iacocca: An Autobiography and other miscellaneous research sources. Enjoy.

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