A high-end sports car achieves maximum performance at an optimum RPM.  
This is the gauge of performance.  
The advanced technology machines in a factory and even the simple home tool all run better at the proper RPM.

In the case of these machines, as we all know RPM stands for “Revolutions Per Minute”.
A machine designed to run at 5000 RPM to perform a specific job, will not perform as well at 1500 or 2000 RPM and in fact may burn out or spoil the product.  
The simple table saw designed to turn at 3000 RPM will cut wood clean and smooth if the blade is sharp, the feed is right and the RPM is correct.
The machine that does not run properly is soon replaced.    

Like these machines, an employee will also perform better at the correct “RPM”.
 However, with people, RPM does not relate to revolving, turning or spinning.  
In fact, these traits may have a distinctly negative connotation when found in a person, an employee.  

The RPM that applies for people/employees has to do with positive human traits.  

For employees

the “R” stands for “Responsible
the “P” stands for “Productive
the “M” stands for “Motivated”.  

If asked to define traits for an ideal employee, these would certainly come to mind.  

Ideal employees and normally the more successful employees all possess these characteristics.


Let’s look at the definitions for these traits and see if they apply to you.

<<< R >>>

Responsible, responsibility and responsive are all derivations of the root word response.  This word comes from the Latin respondere.  Synonyms include: answerable, liability and accountability.    Employees should be very responsible.  They should want and seek responsibility in the interest of career growth.  They should also be very responsive to the normal needs of the job, as well as the occasional crisis deadline.

<<< P >>>

Productive, Production and Producer are all derivations of the root word produce.  This word comes from Latin “pro-“, meaning - forward; and “ducere”- , meaning - to lead. Synonyms include: fruitful, prolific.  These are also fine traits that a good ambitious employee would want and should have.  Employees should be productive;  they should be good producers of quality products.  

<<< M >>>

Motivated, motivation, and motivate are derivations of the root word move.  This word comes from the Latin “movere” meaning - to move.  Synonyms include: induce, prompt, cause.  Employees need to be self-motivated toward our own goals as well as the goals of the company.  Employees also need to be able to motivate fellow workers in the team.  An employee who displays this trait gets the attention of those in the higher positions which can lead to advancement and a higher level of success. 

How’s your RPM?

RPM is descriptive of responsible and productive people because they are self-motivated – to come to work, to produce, to take responsibility for their efforts and to respond to the common goals.  At this point you could ask yourselves; are you responsible?  Do you seek responsibility? Are you responsive to the needs of the project/group?  Are you productive?  Do you contribute to the jobs production?  Are you a good producer?  Are you motivated?  Do you display positive motivation?  Do you motivate others?   

In contrast to the high RPM employee are those who are not responsible, are not trusted as responsible individuals, or may not take responsibility for their actions.  These are workers who are not productive, and not motivated.  These are people who are running at too low an RPM and who may result in burnout or turnout.  

How’s your RPM?  Are you operating at peak performance for yourself and for the Company?

About the Author


{cb:James O. Pennock has more than forty-five years in the process plant design profession. He has been involved in both home office and job site assignments on refinery, chemical, petrochemical, power and other projects. His experience ranges from entry level designer to engineering manager. Much of this was with Fluor. He is also the author of the book "Piping Engineering Leadership for Process Plant Projects." He is now retired, living in Florida, USA and does only occasional consulting work.

Mr. Pennock can be contacted via E-Mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..}

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