Right People – Right Seats

Right People - Right SeatsSure, you’ve heard “get the right people in the right seats”. But many business leaders don’t know what that actually means. Everybody knows the mantra, but most don’t know how to make it happen.

The truth is, there’s a simple process for making sure you hire the right people on your bus — and jettison the wrong ones at the next rest stop.

Acknowledge your company core values

Getting your people issues right starts with defining the right people for you. To do that, you must identify your core values as a company, then ruthlessly hire and keep only those people who share them.

Notice I didn’t say “define” your core values. Too often business leaders pen a feel-good list of what they wish their core value were. That’s worthless. You’ve got to be brutally candid about what’s really important to the critical people who make your business work. Your core values could be “leave no prisoners, work until we drop, get rich fast and everyone else be damned.” That’s not going to land you on many “best places to work” lists, but if that’s who you truly are at your core you can see how people who aren’t that way simply won’t fit in.

Use your core values to manage people

Core values on a piece of poster board in a conference room are useless. Core values as a feedback vehicle as part of an employee’s personal review? Powerful.

It can often be challenging to explain exactly what makes for a difficult employee. Try couching feedback in terms of company core values. In a feedback session say “you know that one of our core values is ‘customer first’, but this behavior didn’t reflect that.” Trust me, at this point you have their attention.

Define your seats

Job descriptions usually stink. Most are 2-4 pages of jargon and drivel that outline tasks a person is expected to perform.

The problem is that tasks don’t mean squat. Results are what mean squat. You must define your right seats in ways that people understand the essential results and responsibilities for which they are accountable. Forget long job descriptions. Identify the 5 major responsibilities of each role in your company. Only then can you have clarity around what the right seats on your bus look like.

Get it/Want it/Capacity to Do it (“GWC”)

Finally, identify who in your company is responsible for every seat and ask three simple questions about every person.

First, do they “get it”? You know when someone doesn’t get it. Don’t over-think this. When somebody doesn’t get it, you know.

Second, do they “want it.” Lots of employees toil in jobs that aren’t truly what they want to do. If someone doesn’t want a clearly defined role, they aren’t in the right seat.

Finally, ask whether the person has the capacity to do the job. If not, is there something you can do about it? If you can, consider doing it. If you can’t, you’ve got someone sitting in the wrong seat.

Next Steps


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