Putting People In Their Place

One of the things that I learned from a talk I heard from a great leader named Sam Chand was “proper people placement prevents problems!”

What a true statement. One of the most frustrating places to be in is the wrong position. I have learned you can save yourself a lot of personnel issues and money by having the right people in the right place.

There was a point in my career where I was promoted to a job I had no skills, no passion, and no desire for, but at the time I had to do it because I needed the money. I could do the job, I was good at it, but I didn’t like it. I was grateful to have it and it eventually opened the door for me to be promoted to a position I was better suited for.

Unfortunately, my gifts and talents were not being used. In fact every weakness I had was being exploited, but who cared the job was getting done. No one asked me my passion. I took a personality test, but no one looked at. Some leaders are more concerned about filling a position with someone that can complete a task rather than finding the right person for the role.

Through this process of people placement I have learned a few lessons, but before you deal with the people aspect, I think you have to deal with your culture:

Remove Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy slows down an organization more rapidly than anything else. Remove the attitude of “this is the way we have always done it.” Get rid of everything that does not make sense and does not add value. Begin to look critically at the things you do everyday. Ask yourself why and for what reason are you doing certain things?

Encourage Creativity

Create a way for ideas to flow. Some of the most unlikely people around you have great ideas, and you may not know it. You have to be open to ideas and open to change. When Michael Eisner was CEO of Disney he had creative meetings that he called “Gong Shows.” All those at the meeting were encouraged to bring their craziest and outrageous ideas. Everyone knew most of them would be “gonged”, but Eisner wanted free and loose meetings because then people started to think more imaginatively.

Encourage Action

If your people always have to come to you for permission then you are losing. The only permission they need is the freedom to succeed. I have heard so many times “that is a great idea” but no one does anything about it or people are never given permission to run with it. You don’t have to act on every idea, but you should have an atmosphere of acceptance where everyone knows they have permission to take action.

I believe if these principles are in place then you can help people to find their place. Below are some ideas and strategies to help you:

Engage and Listen

Engage and listen to the people that you are working with. Listen actively to their concerns, needs, and what their desires are. If you really hear them, then you can help them discern where they should be placed.

Make Them Owners

Make your people feel like they contribute to the organization. They should feel some ownership and feel that what they do matters. I have witnessed that people feel like they have to leave their brain at home before they come to work. They are expected to complete a mundane task, but not to think.

Turn Them Loose!

Find a way for people to shine. Don’t use people as a means to an end, find their passion and put them in a position to succeed. Turn your people loose by removing boundaries and systems that don’t work. Give them power to make decisions and the ability to make mistakes. Give them a chance to succeed.

The most precious commodity we have as leaders are people. They matter, they have value, and we should treat them as such!

Question: What other cultural things can organizations change to help put people in their place? Please share your answers in the comment section below.

This is a guest post by Luke Roland. Luke categorizes himself as a big dreamer! He lives in NYC with his wife and two kids. He blogs at lukeroland.com where he seeks to inspire people to leave the familiar and pursue the dreams that are in their hearts. You can follow him @lukeroland.

I’m always looking for guest posters. If you would like to guest post, you can find the guidelines at An Invitation To Guest Post.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great post Luke! I think encouraging conflict. So many times we just want to be nice and professional but conflict is the one true way to progress.

    • Hey Mike! Thanks for sharing your comments. I think encouraging conflict is a great way to grow and progress. Too many people are afraid to have tough conversations but without them you end up with “yes” men and no creative thought!

    • Hey Mike! Thanks for sharing your comments. I think encouraging conflict is a great way to grow and progress. Too many people are afraid to have tough conversations but without them you end up with “yes” men and no creative thought!

    • Mike, I think that idea also goes along with the scripture about iron sharpening iron. There’s conflict there with the iron going against iron. So conflict does help people progress!

  • Same is the case with me and i think with a lot of us. We want to do something that we like and we end up doing something else which later on turns out to be a burden on our mind. This decreases our creativity too and we are left with no choice to keep our mind closed and work for money.

    • It can be a vicious cycle that is hard to get out of. One of the most frustrating things is to be stuck in a career or situation that you don’t like. I think the shift can happen when you believe there is a way out, and then take control of your life. Thanks for sharing!

  • Something I helped lead at my firm over the last year was an emphasis on a healthy culture. We started by asking everyone on the team a single question: “What are you passionate about and how can we incorporate that into your role(s) here?”

    Asking that question and finding ways to implement people’s passions into their work has changed the work environment from top to bottom.

    • Sean, more and more companies are learning that culture is so important. It sounds like you’re on the right track and are asking great questions to get people in the right spot. How have you seen this affect your firm?

      • It has moved people from running through the motions to being engaged. It’s carried over into almost every area…from answering the phone to new approaches with our client meetings.

        Passion sparks creativity. And when the group actually enjoys what they do, it is attractive to clients. Our referrals are up and our key performance indicators are looking great too.

        • That’s awesome Sean! So glad you were able to see results from shifting and creating a corporate culture at your company.

    • Hey Sean, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. That is a great question and what a great opportunity for you to engage your team!

  • I really like the part about making them owners. As leaders, we must learn to empower and let our team members go. They will learn from their success and failures. And believe me, we will be called in when it is absolutely required.

    • Hey Jon…I think when people have a sense of ownership on a team/organization their commitment level, creativity, and overall experience is greater. I really like your point on learning. I have found micromanagement to eliminate learning and the overall growth of the person.