Discover Best Practices through Benchmarking

By Greengard, Samuel | Personnel Journal, November 1995 | Go to article overview

Discover Best Practices through Benchmarking

Greengard, Samuel, Personnel Journal

There's nothing like a whiff of reality to make you realize yesterday's winning formula can easily turn into tomorrow's recipe for disaster. And Mike Burns is well aware of the fact. The vice president of HR and Total Quality Culture at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. has seen the automotive and tire business undergo massive change during the last few years--part of a larger transformation affecting industry as a whole. As the huge Akron, Ohio-based manufacturer has struggled to keep pace with the changing workscape, the organization has focused on finding new and better ways to get things done in all functions. "Success is measured by how well you can adapt. What worked in the past isn't necessarily going to work in the future. Today, change is an absolute necessity," he says.

Indeed, Goodyear has analyzed, deconstructed and then reassembled various practices in new ways, gaining remarkable insights into the way the company and its people actually work. In HR alone, the company has scrutinized everything from benefits to training procedures, looking at other companies and examining best HR practices. Then it has put all the information together--both quantitative and qualitative forms--to provide a crystal-clear snapshot of what it's doing well and ways it can improve (see sidebar, page 72). But, perhaps most important of all, this ongoing benchmarking has harvested brainpower and enthusiasm the company didn't know existed. By measuring itself against other organizations and then soliciting input and involvement from its key HR employees, Goodyear has managed to empower its work force while finding more efficient ways to get work done.

And Goodyear isn't the only company using this technique. During the last several years, few things have fractured the corporate psyche more than the pressure to achieve outstanding results with dwindling resources. As one company after another has restructured and downsized, the emphasis on reengineering and TQM has grown to almost a fevered pitch-and the need to squeeze greater results out of less raw material has become de rigeur. As HR departments struggle to meet this challenge, one thing has become clear: Improvement doesn't take place in a vacuum. That's why a growing number of HR functions have turned to benchmarking-that is, thoroughly examining their own practices or procedures and measuring them against the way other companies operate. HR has learned it's essential to understand what works best and how that can be applied to a philosophy of continuous change and improvement.

It's worth the sweat. Benchmarking embodies the idea that it's possible to examine best practices of other companies and then implement changes based on those observations. It usually requires a good deal of internal analysis and observation, as well as phone calls or site visits to obtain the actual information. When it's done correctly, it's often a complex and formal process that involves detailed questioning, research and analysis. Benchmarking might also include statistical data that a company can plug into a matrix for determining what improvements are desirable-and possible. Regardless of the approach, benchmarking always requires steadfast dedication to the idea of making changes in behavior as well as to the actual systems that drive a company. Explains Alfred R. Pozos, director of the Intemational Benchmarking Clearinghouse for the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) located in Houston: "It demands a great deal of introspection and honesty. It's part logic and part intuition. You have to be prepared for your ego to get slapped around a bit."

Indeed, like any business practice, benchmarking sometimes can be gutwrenching, frustrating and time-consuming. Says Charles Bent, staff director of planning and research at NYNEX Corp. in Marlboro, Massachusetts: "Benchmarking doesn't always tell you what you want to hear: it doesn't always work how you think it will and neatly solve your problems. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Discover Best Practices through Benchmarking


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.