Baseball umpires and public school teachers, what could they possibly have in common?
Both groups of unionized employees have come under public attack for their lack of employee evaluation methods, each group preferring to go with longevity and tenure, over competency testing and management evaluations. On May 29th, Jim Leyland, the manager of the Detroit Tigers, went on one of his infamous rants regarding the poor performance of umpires in a game against the Cleveland Indians. In the 2010 documentary, Waiting For Superman, Michelle Rhee, then the chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools from 2007 to 2010, was featured in the documentary about the failing public school system, begging to have teachers evaluated and compensated on the merits of their performance. Both Leyland and Rhee made a public call for accountability and employee evaluations for groups of employees who are not evaluated.
Both groups of employees, through their respective union representation, have publically stated they will not stand for such practices. Instead, they will stand by their mantra of longevity and experience which they believe is more valuable to employers than actually measuring competency and performance. This is an outdated, antiquated thought process that does not foster a healthy working environment. Specifically regarding the education of our children, it is purely selfish on the part of the teachers who put their own needs of job security ahead of the needs of the students they teach. In an article published in USA Today (12/7/12), out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math. Some would argue that the umpires are doing a better job.
In the private sector (aka The Real World), business owners could not even think of adopting this type of employee management practice. It’s too laborious and doesn’t reward the top performers; rather it protects the underperformers and causes division amongst employee ranks. Top performers know they are good at their jobs and are able to earn a wage that rewards their superiority. Top performing employees also know which of their co-workers underperform, or does the bare minimum of work. By rewarding every employee equally, or on seniority, the top performers are no longer incentivized to continue their superior performance because there isn’t any possibility to earn a higher wage or a promotion.
I am not pro-union or anti-union. What I am is Pro-Accountability and Pro-Pay for Performance as it regards employee efforts in the workplace. As the American workforce morphs and evolves, employers in most sectors need to locate the best talent, eliminate underperformers, and create an employee culture that breeds harmony and cohesion.