According to this article in Inc., “9 Things You Should Never Ask Employees To Do“, two things are absolute no-nos:

  1. Ask employees to evaluate themselves.
  2. Ask employees to evaluate their peers.

When you’re as bureaucracy-averse as I am, advice like that goes down pretty easy. So, imagine my surprise when I saw this video presentation, “How To Motivate Your Managers“, also in Inc., which says one thing is an absolute must:

Inspire greatness in your management team by asking them to evaluate themselves and each other every quarter.

Say what? Two pieces in the same publication at diametrically opposed ends of the same how-to spectrum?

I called Bruce Hornwinkle, Senior Vice President (SVP) in Charge of Strategic Editorial Direction (SED) and Overall Editorial Content (OEC) for all of Inc. Publications Worldwide (IPW). We’ve known each other since we were kids. In fact, we were thrown out of Camp Fire Girls together before it went coed.

Both of us were interested in scouting. Neither of us believed we’d have as much fun camping with boys as we would with girls. We’d have gotten away with it if we hadn’t pitched our tent next to the tent of the troop leader, Miss Ballpeen, the night we talked Ernestine Magilicuddy and Gladys Bilge into getting in our sleeping bags with us. Who knew they were gigglers?

I’d been meaning to call Horny for a while, just to find out how he fit his title on his business card. That dovetailed nicely with my curiosity about the seemingly opposing SED.

When I rang his number at about 10:00 a.m., his admin told me he only had about an hour before starting his customary liquid lunch. But he’d gladly take a few minutes to catch up with me. Wondering what she knew about the history of Horny and me, but afraid to ask, I let her connect me. He sounded exactly as he always did: “Hey, OB, you old cow-tipper you. How the hell are ya?”

I let the jibe slide, hastened through the requisite niceties, and got to the point. When I asked Horny how two conflicting editorial opinions appeared in his publication, on his watch, he told me it was deliberate. With feigned and none-too-convincing aplomb, he said in the days between the publication of the two missives, the entire philosophy of organizational management changed.

The first one reflected the privacy, discretion, and confidential nature of Organizational Management Theory (OMT) that had been in vogue at the time. The second one reflected the new paradigm (oh, boy) adopted less than a week later. It relied on peer-judging to take the pressure off of the singularly subjective evaluative opinions of individual managers.

I was neither impressed nor sold. Horny didn’t care. He took a different tack:

“I sense you’re slightly less than persuaded, OB. You’re being stodgy, as usual. The world changes, old boy. Ya gotta roll with it.”

“I realize that, Horny,” I replied. “On the other hand, you’ve never been one to let the truth stand in the way of a good story. I’m simply trying to pick my way through the blarney to figure out how you managed to let two pieces espouse different stances with nary a notice.”

“A literalist and a perfectionist to the end, huh Dude? And after all these years.”

“No, Horny. Because of all these years. In terms of style and technique, there ain’t much new under your sun.”

“Ya know what? I’m glad you mentioned that. I been thinking about our Camp Fire Girls escapade, and I had an idea: Wadda ya say we join the DAR for old times’ sake?”

“You may be full of it, Horny. But you still come up with a good idea on rare occasions. I’m in.”

Image by johnhain, courtesy of