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Right people in the right role

CCLBlog Individual Excellence Right people in the right role

Right people in the right role

Why does it matter and how effective can it be?

Is your entire workforce working efficiently in all areas? If not, what could be the problem and can it be resolved? Is everyone in the role that plays to their strengths, how can we identify this problem and how do we find a solution?

Do you understand individuals’ strengths and the dynamics of your Teams as a whole? Is your organisation fluid, or can the structure change to suit the goals or deadlines?

Imagine being an individual who is struggling at work, by not fully understanding their role, or alternatively not being challenged, feeling under-utilised and underachieving: do you believe this type of environment would be adding value and people are giving their all?

There are many facets of leadership, but one of my biggest tasks of managing over 700+ personnel was to ensure my teams and individuals were best placed to perform to the highest standards that we, as an organisation, strived to set.

Leading in a large organisation, I had several sub-departments that have several teams inside. After scheduled meetings there would be a chance for AOB (Any Other Business) at the end of each session. At these opportune moments I sometimes would be presented with concerns about Teams or individuals not performing. Mostly these concerns were tentative and were easily resolved internally at sub-department level and were more for awareness. Things such as Mr A, is struggling to do XYZ, when repeated would often be flipped on its head by me and questioned as to what Mr. A was actually good at.

After meeting with the CEO, I was informed a sub-department head, with 12 years of experience and promoted through the organisation who was leading 30+ people, was having difficulties, so I would have to investigate. When asked my initial thoughts at first, I was perplexed. Why? Because I had faith in this individual and the system in place. They had professional development in order to promote and course qualified: was this enough for him to perform at his best? Also, in time they may well be sitting in my chair!

To fully understand how to ensure the ‘Right people in the role’, I have devised a checklist as a guide:

Step 1: Know their aspirations and remember: not everyone aspires to be the CEO.

People are individuals in their own right, they have different agendas and many are at different stages in their lives. Some maybe waiting to retire or want a change of direction. Others seek challenges or a better life/work balance, maybe they have a young family and do not want added pressures or responsibilities that often come with promotions.
So, I had to confirm that leading 30+ people daily was indeed what this individual wanted and explore his aspirations, how did he hope to achieve them, could I help?
After deep conversation it was clear that the aspirations were to continue professional development and promote in time. However, as with lots of people they are unaware of different routes towards promotion, which I highlighted as potential possibilities.

“The Road to Success is Always Under Construction” – Lily Tomlin

Step 2: Understand organisational culture and values – It’s a must!

Culture may be team- or individual-based. It may be fun or serious at times, but should always be inclusive and knit the organisation together. To be an effective leader you must ensure a good working culture and believe in the values of the company.

This is why large organisations describe themselves in broad terms such as “entrepreneurial,” “creative,” “results-driven,” or “inclusive,” even when their own employees perceive a very different type of work culture.
The culture in this particular team was a mature professional one, that had operated together closely for a number of years. They required direction but not much more, definitely not micro-managing!

So, what type of leader was needed? Maybe it needed more than an experienced competent leader? Did the individual understand the needs and culture of this particular Team?

Step 3: A Good “Fit” – One size doesn’t fit all

Experience and expertise are central to a Leader’s potential, but insufficient to predict Leadership performance. Even in-depth assessments of personality characteristics, such as self-awareness, integrity or openness will fail to predict if the Leader will “Fit” the role. By using motives and values as an inner compass, it will give clear indications what the Leader will like and therefore reward and subsequently what type of Team they would create. This “inside” of personality needs to be fully understood to achieve a narrowing of successful candidates who will be a good “Fit”, both to the Team and organisation. For example, Leaders who value Team Belonging (see Blog) and affiliation will focus on Team building and working collaboratively and would struggle if isolated, or in an individualistic company. While a Leader who is traditional in beliefs valuing what is right or wrong, will prefer a hierarchical structure, possibly struggling in a creative, innovative environment.
After reviewing the situation, the knowledge, skills and experience were in abundance, there was no-doubt about these credentials, it was more about the personality being able to “Fit”, was there a better solution? Just maybe both parties would be better off with a change of direction!!!

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid” – Albert Einstein

Step 4 – Realignment and job descriptions: one big jigsaw puzzle.

Any CEO would welcome a high performing work force that is fit-for-purpose and strives for success in all areas. But realistically in a rapidly changing world an organisation needs to be dynamic against both internal and external threats to success. By being able to realign personnel and form new or disband/merge departments it gives greater flexibility when dealing with things such as market changes or possible restructure.

My own organisation had expanded to meet challenges at that specific time, it had expanded in areas that was less pertinent, so streamlining/restructuring began. This streamlining can sometimes be looked on positively with the right mindset as an opportunity to realign Teams or individuals, sometimes to create new roles or Team fusion, avoiding duplication of work and maximising effort.

The training department was deemed too inflexible and concentrated on fundamentals and was far from leading edge – it needed an overhaul and even a name change! Also, in an era of compliance, policy would change and need monitoring intensely. We needed motivated, experienced, course qualified personnel who had a main stream background as they had the credentials needed to teach, ensuring compliance and policy would be adhered to.

After consultation, I realigned the Team Leader who was delighted with the idea of running a department that would have a number of experts in their field, to train personnel and ensure readiness for future challenges, utilising the latest training practices and resources. Professional career development would also continue; although not the main stream to promotion, it would be answerable directly to the CEO and competitive amongst peers.


A competent Leader in their own right may not be enough, they need the opportunity to flourish in an environment that suits not just professional competence but their personality. On a larger scale it may be necessary to create different departments, or Teams to meet challenges. The “Right Fit”, is essential for Teams to strive. I witnessed a transformation of a department in to forward thinking Team who delivered training and ensured readiness by having the personality suited to Lead the Team. The “Right people in the right role”, is therefore essential to maximise the efforts of everyone as a collective and pursue the goals of the wider organisation.