I had the opportunity to attend the GBTA Masters Conference earlier this year, along with our CEO, Mike Cameron. While there, we were able to meet and talk with Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great. In fact, Mike shared his notes from Jim’s keynote address with our blog readers in this post.
One of the concepts Jim teaches in Good to Great is that as leaders, we need to get the right people “on our bus,” and make sure they’re in the right seat. I have always found this metaphor useful when making critical personnel decisions. I also believe that we, as company leaders, need to take responsibility for the development and growth of our managers by providing training and coaching opportunities.
But the question on my mind during Jim’s speech was: How do we know when we should continue to invest our time and energy to help an individual be successful in our organization, and when do we decide that they are in the wrong seat, or worse, that they should not even be on the bus? Clearly the decisions derived from that question can be pivotal for both the company and the individual impacted by the decision.
I posed this question to Jim and he offered an insightful response. He said it helped him to reflect on three questions when faced with a tough personnel decision:
1. Are the individual’s values aligned with the organization’s?
If there is a mis-match in values then there is no hope that the relationship will work. No amount of training or coaching will solve this problem. The best decision is to end the relationship.
2. Does the individual have the will to succeed in the organization?
If lack of will is the issue, but the individual has both the values and the skills for the position, then the best course of action is to provide coaching to help motivate the individual. Some patience is appropriate in this situation, however you can’t continuously “blow air into their balloon.” At some point, they must develop their own willpower for long-term success.
3. Does the individual have the skills necessary to succeed in their role?
Individuals can have both the values and the will to succeed, but lack in key skills needed in their position. In these situations, we can afford to be more patient because skills can be taught, particularly if they are willing and able to learn and have the desire to succeed.
I hope you’ve found this framework as useful I have in making important personnel decisions that will help your organization achieve the success you deserve. I also encourage you to read Good to Great to discover additional leadership insights. And remember: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).