Principles for Doing Your Job!
Remarks by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover U.S.N.
"Since the end of World War II, the number of
civilians in relation to the total (federal government) workforce
has steadily increased to the point where we have more managers
and checkers, than we have doers."
"Our senior employees have been schooled in this 'new' philosophy
which holds that, as long as a person is well-versed in a few simple
rules of how to handle people and situations, he need not know
anything about the details of the programs he is managing or the
increasingly sophisticated technologies on which many of these
programs are based. This has allowed the non-professional to
achieve high status and high pay within the government. If trouble
erupts, they can then blame those beneath them or those who
preceded them. Until this false concept is rooted out of the federal
government, we cannot expect the American people to retain their
trust in government. In fact, they should not."
"I do not hold much hope for this being done before a major
disaster befalls the United States. But I can provide some basic
principles for doing job which I have followed for over 50 years
government service and which I have instilled in my senior managers.
If these principles were emphasized, they would go a long way
toward reversing their current trend." These Principles are:
"A person doing a job - any job - must feel that he
owns it and
that he will remain on that job indefinitely. Lack of commitment
to the present job will be perceived by those who work for him,
and they will also tend not to care. If he feels he owns his job and
acts accordingly, he need not worry about his next job."
"Along with Ownership comes the need for full
acceptance of full
responsibility for the work. Shared responsibility means that no
one is responsible. Unless one person who is truly responsible
can be identified when something goes wrong, then no one has
really been responsible."
Attention to Detail -
"A tendency among managers, particularly as they move
positions, is to think they no longer need to be concerned with details.
If the boss is not concerned about details, his subordinates also will
not consider them important."
"If you are to manage your job, you must set
priorities. Too many
people let the job set the priorities. You must apply self-discipline to
ensure your energy is applied where it is most needed."
Know What is Going On -
"You must establish simple and direct means to find
out what is
going on in detail in the area of your responsibility. I require
regular periodic reports directly to me from personnel throughout
Hard Work -
"For this, there is no substitute . A manager
who does not work
hard or devote extra effort cannot expect his people to do so. You
must set the example. Hard work compensates for many short-
comings. You may not be the smartest or most knowledgeable
person, but if you dedicate yourself to the job and put in the
required effort, your people will follow your lead."
Checking Up -
"An essential element of carrying out my work is the
have it checked by an independent source. Even the most
dedicated individual makes mistakes."
Facing the Facts -
"Another principle for managing a successful program
resist the natural human inclination to hope things will work
out, despite evidence or doubt to the contrary. It is not easy to
admit that what you thought was correct did not turn out that
way. If conditions require it, one must face the facts and brutally
make needed changes despite considerable costs and schedule
delays. The man in charge must personally set the example
in this area."
This article was excerpted from remarks that Admiral
made to a meeting of the Order of 5-48, an organization of current
and retired Naval Reserve officers who are members of, or other-
wise connected with, the United States Congress.
Admiral Rickover got his fourth
star from CNO Elmo Zumwalt