Craig H. said:
Again, how does a manager best use their people without making judgements (using the aforementioned "measurements") concerning their attitudes and abilities? Without determining what motivates each individual, how can a manager even make a decent attempt at keeping the workers happy?
In reality, we do not have an attitude meter. I only know my own attitude. I may be able to infer your attitude by watching your behaviors, working with you, or gathering certain data that I can infer your attitude from (a worker survey, sick day records). Dr. Deming stated the most important data are unknown and unknowable. But I can use information on hand. Dr. Deming interviewed workers, and reviewed sick day records. With that information, he could pretty well "peg" the culture of the company. Might not be a number, but he could certainly describe it.
To me, what a number is is not as important as what I do with the number.
Certainly on abilities I should understand who are outliers above and below the pack. Learn lessons from them. What makes them high or low? Inate ability? Tools / equipment they have? They're lucky? Right place at the right time? Breaking "the rules"? Perhaps a worker is a poor worker due to they need eyeglasses. Maybe they need training.
But the theory is that rating and ranking folks within the pack accomplishes little.
And I'm not too sure that a manager's job is to make the workers happy . But I would say it is to remove barriers that prevent good work, that are in the way of workers accomplishing what they want to accomplish, and what they need to accomplish for their employer.