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Helping People Win at Work

Author: Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge (2009)

This book is a win-win story about CEO, Garry Ridge of  WD-40, who revamps the performance review system and rebuilds the company’s culture. Garry’s “servant leadership” approach and business philosophy “Don’t mark my paper, help me get an A” results in transforming the culture resulting in tripling the company’s annual sales and making WD-40 a great place to work. This book takes a “fresh look” at performance review systems which are not very useful in most organizations today. Garry Ridge, CEO, successfully implemented a year-round system that engages employees, creates powerful partnerships with employees and where feedback is delivered with care and candor. Employees write their own appraisals and discuss them on a quarterly basis both informally and formally. Discussions are for review and learning. Using such creative terms such as “tribal leaders” and “tribe members”, Garry views “tribe” as a place to belong while “team” is something you play once in a while. This philosophy becomes Garry’s foundation for designing the right culture where leaders are to help employees get “A” grades.

This is an excellent book that outlines the specific strategies of how a CEO successfully changed company culture. As a reader, you can easily comprehend, based on the writing style (personal stories blended with theory/practice), how this author’s approach would be a sure win. He leads with passion and heart and devotes serious time to self-development identifying his personal wins and failures as a leader. A great addition to this book is the work of Ken Blanchard, (The Ken Blanchard Companies) famous author and leadership coach, who provides well-known leadership principals and models (Situational Leadership, Servant Leadership and  the “12 Simple Truths”) that all leaders could apply on their organizations.


This book would be most useful for those managers who are interested in improving their performance management system. Also a great read for seasoned leaders who are trying to change company culture and want to read a CEO’s success story.

What I like best about this book is learning about Garry Ridge’s personal journey to success. He shared unique excerpts from his own personal life history to craft his leadership philosophy and stories. I appreciated learning about the “12 simple truths” that underlined Garry Ridge’s success. Ken Blanchard’s performance system is an excellent model and one that can be replicated in other organizations that are ready to “help their employees get an A grade”!