11 Jan '14
Right people, right seat: often the most important issue
It was a conversation between myself and an executive pastor over a number of issues he faces in his large church. As we discussed these challenges, almost every one of them came down to a singe issue: having the right staff in the right seat on the bus.
We pay far too little attention to the issue of "right staff, right seat." Wrong staff - those who are not suited for what they do, or are placed in a place where they cannot play to their strengths cause huge frustrations for supervisors and the rest of the team. This executive pastor was focusing on the issues he faced but not on the source of the issues which were in almost each case staff issues.
It is amazing how many issues are solved when there is a great fit between a needed role and a staff member who fits that role. No longer is there a need to closely supervise the staff member and there is not the frustration of lack of alignment or sub standard work. When the fit is right there is synergy and effectiveness. When it is wrong, there is frustration and ineffectiveness.
Often when talking to leaders about staff issues they recount their frustrations with a specific staff member and a history of ineffectiveness. When I suggest that the best predictor of future performance is past performance they agree but keep hoping that the situation will change. Usually it will not - unless you can find another role where the staff member can better play to their strengths.
The more supervision that is required, the less likely it is that the staff member in question is in the right spot. Rather than upping the supervision it is probably time to look closely at the job fit. And to realize that trying to make the fit work probably will not work. If the strengths and capacity do not match, nothing you do will make it match.
Remember too that the frustration of the supervisor is often matched by frustration by the staff member. Keeping the staff member in a spot that does not play to their strengths and allow them to be effective, is not in the best interests of the staff member. In other words, making a change solves problems all around but it takes the courage to do so.
The issue is rarely about the character of the staff member. More likely it is about their wiring, strengths and capacity. Entering into a dialogue with them on where they can be best utilized based on these factors, while sometimes difficult, honors them by focusing on where they will be most successful - and ultimately fulfilled.