The Secrets of Effective Cadre Management: What Top Companies Like Huawei Do Differently


What is Parkinson’s Law?

British historian Parkinson discovered an interesting phenomenon during his public office:

Between 1914 and 1928, the British Navy reduced its number of ships by two-thirds, and the number of naval personnel shrank to 46,000, but the number of officers in the Admiralty increased by 78%, from 2,000 to 3,569. Fewer ships and fewer troops meant fewer jobs, but a huge increase in officers.

This phenomenon that officials create officials and mediocre people create mediocre people is called Parkinson’s law.

As for why this phenomenon occurs in institutions, Parkinson explained:

An unqualified manager has three options –
First, resign and give up the position to someone with strong ability;
Second, let competent people help you work;
Third, hire two people with a lower level than yourself as assistants.

The first path is unacceptable, which is tantamount to self-destruction; the second path is also not acceptable, because capable people will become competitors; so the third path is the most suitable.

As a result, two mediocre assistants shared his work, and he himself took the lead. Both assistants are not capable enough, and they will follow suit, and find two assistants who are also not capable enough.
By analogy, there are more mediocre people at the first level than the first level, and the number of personnel continues to expand. Everyone is very busy, but the efficiency of the organization is getting lower and lower.

In the current environment, especially growing companies are prone to the mentality of “getting old before getting rich”. Whether it is high-level cadres or the most grassroots employees, no one is willing to show their talents, and the entire organization has fallen into a state of laziness. At this time, the company has existed in name only.


Reflections on current organizations brought by Parkinson’s Law

As the old saying goes, there are raging soldiers, and there are raging litters, what kind of cadres lead what kind of subordinates. When we provide consulting services, we often find such problems in enterprise management:

Some cadres are unwilling to train their own successors, thinking that training successors is a threat to themselves;
Some cadres use the word “fear” when facing problems, and always shift the responsibility to their superiors or subordinates;
The company knows that the cadres are not qualified for the current position, but they cannot be replaced…..

The reasons for the occurrence of Parkinson’s phenomenon in the management of enterprise cadres can be summarized as the following three:

1. Cadres are bloodless

The pressure is all on the boss himself; even if there are many officers and few soldiers, there is no one to share his worries, and the cadres dare not challenge.

2. Cadres are incompetent

Cadres are not capable enough to bear the burden, and use past experience to do future things.

3. There is no echelon for cadres

Cadres are faulty, there is no echelon of cadres; post-60s and post-70s are used to manage post-90s and post-00s, and there are no successors for cadres

Cadres only see the power of being an official, but do not understand the mission and responsibility carried by the word “cadre”.

Human nature is selfish and lazy. Why did the three monks have no water to drink? It’s not because they can’t carry the bucket, but no one wants to suffer losses or take on extra labor, and even wants to get some benefits from the other party.

If there is an abbot in the temple who is above the three monks, with his authority and ideological education, it is possible for the three monks to regain the water. However, this is not the best solution.

What is the best way? That is to formulate rules based on human nature, and use rules to control human nature, so that employees can avoid human weaknesses and stimulate human vitality under the control of rules.


A panorama of cadre management
Crush the “Three Pain Points” of Cadre Management

Ren Zhengfei has said more than once:

“The company must eradicate the sedimentary layer and eradicate irresponsible people. For such a person, he must be removed from his position… For those who have been irresponsible in their positions for a long time, if they cannot make up their minds Fire them, what hope is there for this team?”

In the management of cadres and talents, Huawei uses textbook-like methods and cases to maintain a sense of hunger at the grassroots level, a sense of crisis at the middle level, and a sense of mission at the top level. Combined with Huawei’s cadre management system, we have summed up the four pillars of cadre management to share with you:

1. If the appointment of cadres is not standardized, we should focus on the inspection and selection of cadres:

In terms of probability, the cadres selected without clear standards are mixed. Huawei’s talent selection standards are derived from the general standards for cadres and the standards for job talents .

The General Criteria for Cadres is a set of unified and standardized cadre selection criteria established by Huawei. Different business departments and management levels all follow the same standard in the selection of cadres, including four core contents: performance, ability, core values, and morality.

In addition to general standards, there are job differentiation standards. Huawei attaches great importance to the matching degree of internal personnel and positions. By defining the role requirements of different positions, and combining the business challenges faced by the positions, the job portraits are drawn, and the experience and characteristics required by the positions are extracted from them to form the talent standards for the positions.

It is worth noting that when Huawei applies the cadre standard, it does not require cadres to achieve the highest score for each ability or experience, but to judge the three most important abilities and experiences according to the specific requirements of the position, and then compare them. The level of competence and experience of the cadres.

After clarifying the criteria for cadre selection, where and how should cadres be selected?

Huawei’s cadre selection is mainly based on the following three principles:

Prioritize the selection of cadres from successful teams;
Prioritize the selection of cadres from the main battlefield and front-line difficult areas;
Prioritize the inspection and selection of cadres from key events that affect the long-term development of the company.

Huawei also promotes the horse racing culture in the appointment of cadres . In fact, it advocates that the appointment of cadres should focus on performance and fair competition. Regardless of experience and qualifications, merit-based recruitment will allow more outstanding people to have the opportunity to stand out.

2. Cadres are not bloody, so we should focus on the mechanisms of cadre assessment, incentives, tenure, and elimination of the last position:

Huawei has a lot of tools for cadre assessment and motivation, which can be summarized into the following four aspects:

All-round evaluation of cadres: mainly adopts the combination of positive performance appraisal and reverse appraisal. Positive performance appraisal refers to the completion of systematic appraisal in accordance with the results of Huawei’s responsibility, and reverse appraisal refers to the process of behavioral process appraisal based on key events. The combination of the two makes the assessment of cadres more objective and fair.

Cadres are evaluated in different levels and grades: high-level, middle-high level, and middle-level grassroots. The three levels focus on different points.

Performance traction: Differentiated salary strategies are adopted, value distribution is inclined to outstanding talents, heroes are judged by performance, more work gets more.

Opportunity-driven: Provide development plans and key job opportunities, business opportunities, and commendation incentives.

In addition, Huawei has established a cadre rotation and flow mechanism to encourage cadres to actively rotate positions to improve their overall capabilities, and has opened up horizontal, vertical, and internal and external flow channels to activate the organization.

1. Strengthen the horizontal flow of cadres: implement rotation management and decentralization management, and establish a circulation mechanism for cadres

The horizontal flow of cadres mainly includes job rotation and film association organization, etc., to prevent cadres from forming a “chimney-like” limitation and rigid situation, so that they can accumulate a wider range of experience.

At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the flow of cadres is due to business needs, not for the sake of flow. Circular flow is just a way, its purpose is to promote the growth of cadres. Organizations should provide support for new migrants to help them adapt to the new environment faster and grow.

2. Strengthen the vertical flow of cadres: implement the tenure system and build a “zigzag” growth path for cadres

The vertical flow of cadres means that cadres can “up and down” . Huawei’s cadres do not have a lifelong tenure. When the term of office ends, the cadres need to go through the job report and the next stage of job application, accept the evaluation of the organization and the public, and re-discuss the salary. This is to keep the cadres vigilant and make continuous progress, so that the excellent can be promoted and the mediocre can be demoted, so as to inject new vitality and keep the company updated.

In order to avoid the phenomenon of “chimney department” and “chimney cadres” caused by promotion and promotion within the department, Huawei adopted a “zigzag” growth path for cadres. The purpose of this path is to train senior managers and some comprehensive experts, and it is not suitable for everyone. In this way, Huawei has broken down departmental barriers and achieved cross-departmental development of cadres to maintain the vitality of the organization.

3. Strengthen the internal and external flow of cadres: implement the bottom elimination mechanism

The internal and external flow of cadres is to realize the ability of cadres to enter and exit through methods such as elimination of the last position.

For teams whose performance is not up to standard, the cadres will be demoted, and their jobs and salaries will be readjusted to allow them to improve their abilities in new positions. Only when they are competent can they have the opportunity to be transferred back or promoted. However, there is also a time limit for being transferred back to the original post. Thousands who have been demoted are not allowed to be promoted within one year.

It should be noted that the elimination of the last position is not layoffs, but to spur cadres through this activation mechanism, so that the good ones will go up, the mediocre ones will go down, and the inferior ones will be eliminated, so that the entire cadre system will be activated.

3. If there is no echelon for cadres, focus on high-potential talent resource pools (for the middle and grassroots) and succession plans (for the middle and high-level):

1. The whole company builds a cadre echelon with one game of chess

The establishment of a reserve cadre echelon is not just the responsibility of a certain department, but should be considered from the perspective of the entire company, planning and coordinating from an overall perspective. In addition, the essence of the reserve cadre resource pool is to establish a flexible and routine operation mechanism for selecting, reviewing, training, eliminating and using reserve cadres.

It can be compared to a constantly shaking sieve, where people have only two possibilities: either improve or be eliminated, there is no other choice. This mechanism is like a filter, continuously selecting and adapting the most suitable talents to ensure that the company has a strong reserve team of cadres.

2. Drive talent development with business strategy

The human resources plan of the enterprise should serve the business strategy of the enterprise, and the construction of the cadre echelon is to meet the needs of the organization for various talents during the growth process.

Under normal circumstances, when a company determines its development direction, it is like drawing a map. Based on this map, we can formulate a talent plan, clarify what types of cadres are needed, what skills they need, and from what angles to build this team.

In addition, enterprises should also strengthen measures to manage human resources, so that excellent talents can emerge more easily, so that more potential talents can be better discovered, and the company’s human resources can be better deployed and configured .

3. Cadre succession planning and management

In order to maintain a high-level talent team, Huawei has adopted succession planning and management measures to ensure that each level has suitable successors and experienced combatants.

Huawei divides talents into three levels:

Ready-now, the employee has met all the standards required for the target position
One-job away, the employee is still 1~2 key abilities away from the target position standard
Two-job away, employees still lack a lot of key abilities from the standard of the target position

Assess and understand the quantity and quality of talents, and through the implementation of cadre succession planning and management, Huawei ensures that it continues to have an excellent leadership team. In addition, Huawei has also cultivated the second echelon, established an internal job rotation system, and implemented measures such as job qualification certification to encourage employees to continue to work hard towards their goals.

Fourth, if the cadres are incompetent, we should focus on the flow and training of cadres:

The training of cadres by enterprises is not aimed at improving the individual capabilities of cadres, but should focus on operational needs and provide precise empowerment.

1. Build a learning map for key positions

Determine the key positions of the company based on the company’s strategy and business reality, and clarify the specific key positions from the four dimensions of “core expectation”, “professional ability”, “characteristic requirements” and “experience requirements” for the identified key positions Requirements, and use this as a basis to plan the learning and growth path of the post.

2. The core concept of cadre training

Huawei also has three core concepts in the training of cadres, namely the selection system, the combination of training and combat, and using the best people to cultivate better people.

In terms of personnel training, we also believe in the cultivation of talents through actual combat, adopting the method of combining training and combat. Huawei University’s training is also highly close to actual combat. In addition to learning what to know and what to do in classroom training, it is also necessary to carry out actual combat in the work through job rotation, temporary training, project-based work/cross-department work, etc., so as to grow rapidly.

3. The training path from the grassroots to the top

Ren Zhengfei said: “The company lacks cadres everywhere in the development process. If cadres cannot be cultivated, we may not be able to hold our positions and may retreat.”

The growth of Huawei’s managers roughly follows the career development path of “soldiers (basic employees)-heroes (key employees)-squad leaders (basic managers)-generals (middle and senior managers)”.

Based on the development path, Huawei has set up different empowerment projects for managers at different levels to help cadres transform from soldiers to generals. In addition, Huawei emphasizes that company employees must strive to improve the professional capabilities required for their positions, and cadres must improve leadership, insight, and comprehensive management capabilities.

Build a cadre growth model that combines training and combat: classroom training, practice (rotation, temporary training, project-based work, cross-department work), interactive communication (set up a mentor system, internal meetings, project review, sand table drills, etc.)

Empowerment programs for managers at different levels: reserve cadres, grassroots cadres, national general manager development project, senior seminars for Huawei cadres

5. The cadre management mechanism is difficult to implement, and the participation of business executives cannot be effectively involved, so an “administrative management team” is established to provide organizational guarantee:

In addition to the above cadre management process, another very important guarantee is the cadre organization and operation mechanism, that is, the AT operation mechanism, which can ensure the effectiveness of cadre management.

In Huawei, AT is an organization specially set up to manage cadres. It is used for the appointment and selection of cadres, which involves the operation and exercise of powers of AT.

The administrative management teams of entity organizations at all levels are appointed and authorized by the company, under the guidance of the inter-departmental committee, through the decentralized check and balance mechanism with the inter-departmental committee and related business departments, to carry out relevant work on the appointment and recommendation of cadres within the entity organization and employee appraisal and incentives. Work. Through the collective responsibility system to ensure the objectivity and comprehensiveness of the above-mentioned important personnel work, improve the quality of decision-making.

Generally speaking, the effectiveness of cadre management is mainly exerted through the mechanism. As Ren Zhengfei said, talents are not Huawei’s core competitiveness, but the management system for cultivating talents is. Huawei does not rely on cadres, but relies on the cadre management system.

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