Leadership for Life – Right Stuff, Wrong Job

By on November 17, 2014
Right Stuff, Wrong Job

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Most leaders have finally gotten the message that hiring the right people and keeping them is the best way to make a business thrive. Unfortunately, many of these same organizations have neglected to pay attention to what happens after the right people are hired. In too many cases, the right people may be put into the wrong jobs, leading to failure all around. In other cases, the right people may encounter workplace obstacles that have been around for a long time, and which interfere with productivity.

Why do people get slotted into the wrong jobs? In part, it may be the time-honored “halo effect.” The halo effect is a phenomenon in which people who are perceived as having talent in one area are presumed to have talent in another area. Sometimes an individual leaves an organization, and that slot needs to be filled quickly. When that happens, one of the smart, talented fast-trackers may be tapped for the open position, even though that individual, talented as s/he may be, might not have the “right stuff” for that particular job. Too often the result is at best disappointment, or at worst disaster.

Great leaders know that the right person in the right job can make an organization shine. That can be accomplished by careful recruiting, assessment, hiring, and training. They also know that just because someone is good at a particular job, they may not necessarily be good at a different job. We hope for versatility, but hope, as we know, is not an effective strategy.

As for workplace obstacles, sometimes they remain invisible because employees over time have been able to come up with work-arounds that neutralize or minimize the obstacles. When new employees come into the organization, however, the obstacles can make themselves felt acutely. One thing a leader can do is to routinely ask employees what needs to be done to remove the obstacles that get in the way of doing their jobs well. As my colleague, George Friesen, often says, “If you want to know how to improve a process, ask the person who actually does the job.” While sometimes challenging, this represents an opportunity to make necessary changes in work processes or organizational structures that don’t have to be worked around. Once that happens, you can allow your best employees to do their thing while you stay out of their way.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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