Stop Keeping People in the Wrong Seats

by Zach Montroy

Here’s my favorite way to ensure company success – get the right people on the right seats in the bus. The metaphor isn’t mine, but it’s a great way to think about the importance of team members in your business. When leaders are too focused on getting their strategy exactly right, they’re apt to overlook the essential matter of putting the right personnel in the right roles. Today, I’ll walk through the steps of placing people appropriately within your organization.

What’s All This About a Bus?

Jim Collins’ book Good to Great lays out the metaphor. He writes that the best executives don’t figure out where to drive the bus, then order their team to take it there. Instead, truly great leaders begin with “who” rather than “what.”

Collins argues that when you find gifted people and set them loose, they won’t need to be overmanaged. Instead, their inner drive and expertise will funnel them into the right paths toward success. By providing a steady stream of talent into your organization, you’ll see positive results. 

What Prevents Us From Getting The Right People in the Right Seats?

This theory sounds simple enough. Find the right people, then unleash them to create dazzling results. Obviously, it isn’t so easy in practice. Many of the leaders I work with have discovered that they’ve unwittingly placed the wrong people in the wrong seats…and often keep them there. What’s the underlying issue? 

As a manager or company leader, you have the power to determine seating arrangements, and you’re likely not using it to its fullest potential. It’s good and bad news – you alone have the power to set things right.

Clear Communication is Key

First of all – do your people know where they’re placed and why? Too often, confusion obscures meaning. Communicate clearly with your team – what is each employee’s role, and why have they been placed there? Leaders will often avoid these conversations for fear of confrontation, but clear is kind. Hard conversations fuel great outcomes. If employees don’t understand what’s expected of them, frustration will result…on all sides.

Employee and team culture defaults to the worst possible behavior that you allow on a team. If you’re not communicating clearly about everyone’s role and progress, you’re hurting the entire organization.  

Create Internal Assessment Rhythms

Take the time to build one-on-one meetings into your internal flow. Insist that everyone knows when you’ll be talking, and what you’ll be talking about. Give employees a chance to voice concerns and questions, and make sure they know that they’re heard. 

There’s an art to effective one-on-one meetings, and it’s essential that you understand how to conduct them. Do your homework to make sure you’re coming in with a solid strategy to ensure that employees are meeting their personal and professional goals, and insist that everyone’s on the same page. Be radically candid about feedback, and don’t ever leave doubt about where anyone stands.

Seek Out Support

The ability to assess the right personnel for the right fit doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of careful study, practice, and learning. At The Intention Collective, we offer strategic resources, training, and support to make sure you’re fully equipped to staff your bus. Reach out for a consultation, or check out our website to see the services we offer.

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