Best Person Or Best Available Person
People issues are the most important areas where managers and leaders need to invest their time. More specifically, managers need to make sure they are putting the best people possible into each role, and they are coaching and developing people to maximize their performance in the role.
Yet too often, I find managers investing too little time in making sure they are recruiting and putting in place the best person possible, instead bowing to expediency, convenience, or simply laziness.
Doing this is the sure route to failure. It’s a disservice to the organization, to the team, and to the individual. Making a move for expedience, rather than the right person is creating problems from the outset.
It often happens in the most innocent and unintended ways.
We have a long term employee who is in a role that’s no longer needed. We want to be loyal to that person, so we move them into a different role, without addressing the issue, “Do they have the skills/competencies/attitudes/behaviors to be an outstanding performer in this new role?”
Sometimes it’s a misplaced sense of reward/acknowledgment, “Joe’s been a great performer and a long term loyal employee. Let’s reward him with this new management job.” We don’t “reward” people with a job. We put the most qualified people for the job in that role.
Sometimes we are in a rush to fill a role. We know it will take months to find a recruit the right person, so for expediency, we draft some individual in our organization and put them into the role. I see this all the time with first line sales management–we take our best sales person, even though she may have no desire to be a manager, or few of the skills/attitudes/behaviors to be a great manager–and we put them in the role. Within a few months the person may be failing as a manager, her people may be failing, and we have lost a top performing sales person.
Sometimes it’s laziness masked as expediency. Recruiting and interviewing is time consuming and often a hassle, it’s so much easier just to take someone and move them into a role. So what happens is we just take someone who is available. Someone in the company, or perhaps some outsider we ran across, without doing a systematic search.
People decisions are among the most important decisions a manager makes simply because the way things get done is through our people. If we have the wrong people in place, we don’t get the results we need, regardless how great our strategies, programs, processes, tools or how great our products and services are.
So what do we do?
Well first we have to know what we are looking for. What skills, competencies, experiences, behaviors, attitudes to we need in each role? What does our ideal candidate look like?
Then we have to look for the closest fit to that ideal that we possibly can get. No one will be a perfect fit. But we want the closest possible. If we can source the best candidate internally, then fantastic! We should have a practice of developing our people so they can move into greater responsibilities. But if the fit of our internal candidates to the requirements of the job isn’t good, then we are doing everyone a disservice–our company, ourselves, and the employee. If the employee isn’t a great fit, then they will struggle, possibly failing. We have to devote more management time than we should in coaching and dealing with the person. And the bad performance has an impact on the organization.
It’s our job to find the best possible people for each role, not just the most available person.
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