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Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy Called "Don't Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A" Hardcover – May 8, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Ken Blanchard's Leading at a Higher Level techniques are inspiring thousands of leaders to build high-performing organizations that make life better for everyone. Now, Blanchard and WD-40 Company leader Garry Ridge reveal how WD-40 has used Blanchard's techniques of Partnering for Performance with every employee--achieving levels of engagement and commitment that have fortified the bottom line. Ridge introduces WD-40 Company's year-round performance review system, explaining its goals, features, and the cultural changes it requires. Next, he shares his leadership point of view: what he expects of people, what they can expect of him, and where his beliefs about leadership and motivation come from. Finally, Ken Blanchard explains why WD-40 Company's Partnering for Performance system works so well--and how to leverage its high-value techniques in your organization. Partnering to help virtually everyone succeedStop building failure into your mentoring of employees Agreeing on what to evaluate and how to evaluate itSMART goal setting: specific, motivational, attainable, relevant, and trackable Coaching via Situational Leadership(R) IIHelp people move through all four stages of mastery Building a tribe, not just a teamCreate a culture that shares knowledge and encourages nonstop learning "I'm thrilled that the first book in our "Leading at a Higher Level" series is with Garry Ridge, president of WD-40 Company. For years I've been concerned about how people's performance is evaluated. People are often forced into a normal distribution curve, or even worse, rank ordered. Not only does this not build trust, it also does not hold managers responsible for coaching people and helping them win. The manager's responsibility is focused on sorting people out. When I was a college professor, I always gave my students the final exam at the beginning of the course and spent the rest of the semester helping them answer the questions so that they could get an A. Life is all about getting As, not some stupid normal distribution curve. Garry Ridge got this, and wow! What a difference it has made in WD-40
Company's performance."--Ken Blanchard "When I first heard Ken talk about giving his final exam at the beginning of the course and then teaching students the answers so they could get an A, it blew me away. Why don't we do that in business? So that's exactly what I did at WD-40 Company when we set up our 'Don't Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A' performance management system. Has it made a difference? You'd better believe it. Ever since we began the system, our company's annual sales have more than tripled, from $100 million to more than $339 million. And we've accomplished this feat while making the company a great place to work."--Garry Ridge

About the Author

Ken Blanchard has had an extraordinary impact on the day-to-day management of millions of people and companies. He is the author of several bestselling books, including the blockbuster international bestseller The One Minute Manager® and the giant business bestsellers Leadership and the One Minute Manager, Raving Fans, and Gung Ho! His books have combined sales of more than 18 million copies in more than twenty-five languages. In 2005 Ken was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top twenty-five best-selling authors of all time. The College of Business at Grand Canyon University bears his name.


Ken is the chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm. He is also coauthor of Lead Like Jesus and cofounder of Lead Like Jesus, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and equipping people to lead like Jesus.


Garry Ridge is president and chief executive officer of WD-40 Company, headquartered in San Diego, California. WD-40 Company is the maker of the ever-popular WD-40, as well as other household cleaning products. Garry has been with WD-40 since 1987 in various management positions, including executive vice president and chief operating officer and vice president of international. He has worked directly with WD-40 in 50 countries.


A native of Australia, Garry has served as national vice president of the Australian Marketing Institute and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association. He received his M.S. degree in executive leadership from the University of San Diego in June 2001. Garry is an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego. He teaches leadership development, talent management, and succession planning in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership program.


In March 2003 Garry was awarded Director of the Year for Enhancement of Economic Value by the Corporate Directors forum. In April 2004 he received the Arthur E. Hughes Career Achievement Award from the University of San Diego. In 2006 Garry was awarded the Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur Award.



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall; 1 edition (May 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137011717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137011711
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Witt on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Helping People Win at Work, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge argue that that performance reviews should be used primarily to develop people--not evaluate them. It's a philosophy they call "Don't mark my paper--help me get an "A."

The book offers a nice combination of theory and practice describing how the concepts have been put to work at the WD-40 Company where Ridge is the President and CEO.

Ridge explains that "Don't mark my paper--help me get an "A" means having managers at WD-40 working together with their direct reports on Planning, Execution, Review and Learning.

* Planning is all about setting goals and establishing the report card for the employee's "final exam." It's making sure that every employee knows exactly what he or she is being asked to do.

* Execution is where the manager has to keep up his or her end of the partnership relationship on a day-to-day basis, helping and coaching the employee to get an "A."

* Review and Learning is a quarterly evaluation designed to answer the questions, "What did we set out to do? What actually happened? What should we do differently?"

Blanchard and Ridge also discuss the changes to corporate culture and managerial mindset that are necessary to make the concepts a reality. In chapter two for example, Ridge shares 8 ways to Build the Right Culture. In chapter 4, Blanchard shares 12 Simple Truths about Helping People Win at Work. It's a nice combination that shows how a people-focused strategy has been put to work in a real-life organization with great results.
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Format: Hardcover
Garry Ridge is one of a kind: yet his counsel on how to develop a thriving culture, based on his experience with global icon WD-40 Company, can be applied to any firm. The changes he undertook, outlined here, moved WD-40 beyond its historically narrow focus into a future of virtually unlimited opportunities.

He did this by simplifying, without getting caught up in ego or trying to prove his smarts. He's humble, out in front, cheering on his people, learning all the time, and never letting go of the organizational vision.

Given Garry's style, it's no surprise this book sidesteps lofty theories and niche opinions. Instead, he does what savvy business people do: frames his perspective with concrete examples, using the language he's gleaned from seminal thinkers who have influenced him ("Getting an A," Ben Zander... and frankly, anyone who has thought much about where school has gone wrong; Setting "Big Hairy Audacious Goals/BHAG" and making sure the "Right people are on the bus," Jim Collins).

From this book you'll get detail about WD-40's performance review system (including forms and specifics, "you don't want to save up feedback until somebody fails"), the difference between teams and tribes ("a tribe is a place you belong; a team is something you play on once in a while"), goal-setting and ensuring everyone excels ("we owe each other for something we've agreed upon"). And he shares one of my favorite lines from any CEO, "If our culture of candor, caring, accountability, and responsibility doesn't work for you, let's share you with a competitor."

This isn't a typical Ken Blanchard partnership book. There isn't a story of a leader or a management team in a bind.
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Format: Hardcover
At the heart of this, sometimes unnecessarily complicated book, is the idea that a manager should be working to help every single member of his or her team do outstanding work and receive an excellent performance evaluation. In other words performance should be supported, cheered and no supervisor should have to grade someone less than excellent just because the company thinks that its impossible to have a whole team of winners. What's interesting about the idea that a manager should help every person get an excellent job performance rating, is the way it very subtly undercuts what is often used to defend the idea of "Top Talent." Top talent are sometimes seen as being magically better than others and that nothing can be done to improve the situation. The top talent philosophy reflects the famous Jack Welsh approach where someone "objectively" rates everyone and the bottom 20% are soon looking for new jobs. Great idea if some people in the the top 20% were not hell bent to get rid of some other people in the top 20%. Ah, the joys of corporate life!.

Blanchard and Ridge don't buy into the idea that some people get to be "top talent" and others get to be the "dead wood," and that a good manager simply bribes the talent into staying. In their lexicon, a good manger helps everyone to become the top talent. Is this even remotely possible?

It is if you go along with that that soft sentimental institution...the United States Marines. Yep. Ask any Marine commander how he judges his squad leader. He, or she, will tell you that being a squad leader is all about training each person on the team to be the best--and that there is no sacrifice too great when a leader takes care of each and every member of his team.
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