ations. Employees observe thisthrough the
of those around them. The secondquality is predictability. To measureits own likelihood of success, serioustalent demand to know what theycan expect from others. Highperformers generate this through awidespread commitment to
.The third is reliability. Serious talentbelieve they must be able to count ontheir colleagues to do the right thing.This trust arises in high performerswhen an implicit
culture o honor
ispresent. In addition, serious talentneed to be working with others whoshare a mindset that won’t settle for harmful compromises and who strivefor continual improvement.
Capability through pervasive competence
Incompetence corrodes an organiza-tion’s ability to be worthy of serioustalent. Ineffectual employees whoare allowed to keep their jobs are likebroken windows in rundown urbanneighborhoods, which, according totheory, signal an absence of concernand control that encourages further decline. The presence of inept employ-ees sends a signal to coworkers, cus-tomers, partners and others that noone cares how they perform and that,in any event, no one has the power tochange things. High performers knowthat tolerating work that doesn’t meethigh standards destroys the trust andcondence of the best employees.That’s one reason companies needpervasive competence—employeeswith the right knowledge, skills,abilities and other characteristics atevery level. Another reason: When anorganization is pushing itself to thelimit of what can be done, seeminglyminor lapses can have large reper-cussions. That is, in top-performingbusinesses, the fault tolerance beforefailure occurs is usually much small-er. To achieve pervasive competence,companies need to know what kindsof skills and capabilities are requiredat each level of the organization, andthey need to enforce those standardsacross the board.
High-performance businesses havetheir own denition of whatcompetence is and rigorously adhereto that standard. They dene notonly what constitutes generalcompetence but also the specicelements that are known to drivebusiness success. Requirements for roles are clear and consistent, andpeople throughout the organizationare aware of what they need to doto perform their jobs well. At UPS,for example, truck drivers need toknow the “340 methods,” which setout everything from the most ef-cient way to carry keys (to avoidfumbling for them) to the number of steps per second that would be con-sidered walking at a “brisk pace.” When corporate goals change, de-nitions of competence must changetoo. In the early 2000s, Procter &Gamble set out to encourage moreinnovation. It began by conductinga survey of 2,000 former and currentemployees to identify the leadershipbehaviors that would best foster innovation. Using the results, itimplemented a new performanceevaluation system that emphasizedkey attributes, including the abilityto generate innovations by buildingcollaborative relationships. Thosecriteria were then used to assessmanagers regularly, and those whofailed to show a consistent recordof business-building innovationweren’t allowed to become line-grouppresidents, even if they had dem-onstrated outstanding qualities inother areas.