Here’s the deal: When you match people to environments or roles congruent with their skills, knowledge and strengths, they’ll do better.
Reading this statement, it appears patently obvious. But… how many businesses operate this way. Does yours?
This post was inspired by one of Seth Godin’s thought-provoking, minimalist posts. As always, he manages to convey something important and provocative in very few words. This time, he got me considering the way nonprofits structure job descriptions and conduct performance evaluations. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about this, as in my three decades of in-the-trenches practice I wrote a lot of the former and conducted a lot of the latter.
In the early years, I made the mistake of putting people into rather rigid boxes. This was not good for the people stuck inside, nor was it good for the organization as a whole. Later, I learned to be more flexible and play to people’s strengths.
Before I get specific, here comes the Godin post that stimulated this little rant.
Building, breaking, fixing
We spend some of our time building things, from scratch. New ideas, new projects, new connections. Things that didn’t exist before we arrived.
We spend some of our time breaking things, using them up, discovering the edges.
And we spend some of our time fixing things. Customer support, maintenance, bug fixes… And most of all, answering email and grooming social media. The world needs fixing, it always does.
You’ve already guessed the questions:
— where do you personally add the most value?
— how much of your time are you spending doing that?
What follows is a bit of thinking out loud. I hope it will inspire you as well. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
The “Peter Principle” Problem
If you look at a nonprofit organizational chart, too often you’ll see job titles that no longer describe what the folks in them are doing. Sadly, the “Peter Principle” is alive and well. Folks rise to the level of their incompetence, and the function they are supposed to be performing gets shoved to the back burner.
This can lead to hidden organizational inefficiencies. For example: