To turn idealists (meritocrats) into cynics or to say that merit doesn’t or shouldn’t matter or that you must be ready to sacriﬁce any principle to achieve your goals.
But meritocrats often have very good ideas, and they fail to see them adopted just because they are not good at advancing them.
As force equals mass times velocity, progress equals the merit of an idea times the skill of its implementation. And a successful career is much more a function of how much progress you are responsible for than of how many meritorious ideas you conceive.
MANAGING THE MERITOCRAT Meritocrats are not easy to work with—as colleagues or managers. Often when we first begin working with a meritocrat, they spend a lot of time talking to us about their ideas, wanting us to “certify” that they were indeed right, that their plans for the reorganization of a division, or the launch of a new product, or a change in their job description, was the best approach and that their co-workers and manager lack insight and are blind to the truth, so that one may spent three-quarters of his time trying to convince us that his co-managers were crippling the company with their antiquated methods.
To approach meritocrats (and one that managers we have worked with have used successfully with such employees who report to them) is to immediately jump onto their side, to ally with them in their anger that the “MQ” (meritocracy quotient) of their companies is not higher. Listen and agree with them that their ideas are excellent and …