The key to working with staff is helping them find their right place!

Wait! Let me explain. You may have an excellent staff member who fails to excel because they aren’t doing what they do best. Here’s a case in point:

Stacy was obviously a great hire. She had a warm personality, quick wit, excellent computer skills, and a great phone presence. Seeing her at her administrative secretary desk before any of the other staff had arrived in the morning, the HR manager knew he had hit the hiring jackpot. Her supervisor agreed. She proved time and again that her stellar resume was not a fluke.

Her performance continued to excel, but something began to change. Her supervisor noticed that she didn’t have the exuberance that marked her personality at the beginning. Sometimes her colleagues would ask her if she was feeling all right. Sometimes they would wonder aloud if something was troubling her.

One day there was a turn around. Her supervisor needed someone to write a blog for the department, and mentioned it to Stacy. “I’d be glad to give that a try!” she said excitedly. She knocked the first blog out of the park! Not only was Stacy a great writer, she also had design skills. Within the week, she had developed a brand for the communication piece—including a fresh new logo and banner. Other department heads asked her supervisor if he had outsourced the blog. “No,” he responded. “I just found someone in-house who wasn’t doing what they enjoyed doing.”

Stacy was on the office’s production team all the while; she was just in the wrong role.

Building relationships must be a leadership priority. And key to understanding the building process is to understand the “building materials—people.” And, that means putting them in the right place. How do you determine what it is?

  • OBSERVE THEM. What tasks propel them? In what skills do they show excellence?
  • ASK THEM. Use a casual conversation to gain insights on their job satisfaction.
  • ASSIGN THEM. Based on their task preferences, assign a new area of work.
  • AFFIRM THEM. Let them know you appreciate their skillfulness for an assignment.

Discernment is a MUST for effective leadership. Use it purposefully and productively.

–Stan Toler