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Right People, Right Seats – You Need Both

I’ve lived much of my professional life building teams.  Some from the ground up, some I inherited, some that needed to be rehabbed.  All were fun in their own way.  I learned quickly though, that I had to have both the RIGHT people in the RIGHT seats.

The magic of both a RIGHT Person and Right Seat is amazing.  It is harmony for the team with high performance.  Everything just gels.

But, when either one is missing, there is zero magic.  Having the Right Person, Wrong Seat is a tough one.  You have someone that fits your Core Values and believes in your Vision, but in their role (seat), they are not able to contribute to the level needed.  These are people we try to find homes for.  But the homes need to be part of your accountability chart.  DO NOT build roles around people – you’ll regret it every time eventually because something you needed is now being given up to accommodate them.  And eventually they become dissatisfied knowing their role is ultimately not meeting the business needs.

More challenging is Wrong Person, Right Seat.  You have a high performer that leaves a wake of destruction behind them.  It can be covert destruction, which take the form of politics, or it can be overt, which is obvious and visible team friction and issues.  Neither is good for you long term.  Your other highest performers expect you to take care of this issue.  Great employees want to work with other great employees – and they hold you accountable to ensure that.  Over the long term, a Wrong Person, Right Seat will undermine your business and erode the culture one snipe at a time.  As painful as a departure might be, it’s right in the long haul. 

Let me share an example.  I inherited a sales team as a new CEO and the top performer clearly used charm as one of the tactics to get what she wanted from others.  However, underneath that exterior was someone that would manipulate others, circumvent processes and create discord between employees to drum up support for her work and projects.  Over time, that became a divisive frustration that prior leadership would not address, and it festered.  The team who would work on her clients found her abrasive and difficult.  One team member described it as “candy coated poison”.  I had no choice but to work out an exit plan with her when feedback and coaching wouldn’t suffice to yield change from her (and I really didn’t expect it to, but felt I needed to try).  Ultimately, the anticipated gap of her departure was more like a speed bump and we ended up finding talent both aligned to our values (Right Person) and that had the needed skills at an even higher level (Right Seat). 

Be brave – ensure you have both Right People, Right Seats.  Your business will be stronger for it.  And your team expects it from you.

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