In my coaching and consulting work with CEOs, the most common challenge is finding the right people. One of my favorite tools to aid in this important decision is part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), created by Gino Wickman. Information Experts implemented EOS several years ago. I frequently reach back to my EOS toolbox when helping other CEOs move forward.
Whether you are an employee or an employer, chances are you have your share of nightmare stories about the fallout of hires that were not the right fit for a position, or the organizational culture.
Successful leaders know that they must surround themselves with great people to build a great company. I often say that we become the people that surround us. This is especially true in our organizations, where we are potentially with the same people for up to 50 hours a week.
Can you honestly say that all of the people working in your company are the right people, doing the right things?
There are three questions organizations must ask of every employee – both existing employees and prospects:
- Do they “Get” it?
Do they truly understand their role, the culture, the processes and systems, the pace of the organization, and how all of these elements come together to form a well-oiled machine?
- Do they “Want” it?
Do they genuinely like their job? Do they believe in what they are doing? Are they excited about coming to work to see the progress that is occurring? Do they want to use their experience, talents, and ideas to further the organization?
- Do they have the “Capacity” to do it?
Capacity is a multi-pronged word. It applies to mental, physical, emotional, spiritual (in some cases), and intellectual capacity, as well as having the capacity of time to do a job well.
The GWC Model makes hiring decisions very black-or-white. There is no gray area. I’m not minimizing the difficulty of finding the right people, or the importance of putting systems in place to attract and recruit the right people. If a company lacks a strong recruitment process (clearly written job postings with clearly defined competency expectations), the wrong people will show up for interviews. What the model does is make it very easy for organizations to eliminate candidates that lack one of these three key requirements.
A “no” on any of these three means it’s not the right seat for the person. You can occasionally turn a “no” into a “yes” if you are willing to invest the time and money it takes to elevate a person. In fact, that occurred at Information Experts on our VP track, where we provided one-on-one coaching with an executive coach to a long-time employee who demonstrated that he “got it”, “wanted it”, and had the “capacity.” He needed a push to elevate from Director to VP based on the competencies we identified, and he successfully moved into the role of VP.
It’s an easy fall-back to assume you already have people to fill the major functions. However, just because they currently have the job doesn’t mean they get it, want it, and have the capacity.
Further, promoting from within often results in a demonstration of “The Peter Principle.” This allows consideration of the potential of an employee for a promotion based on performance in the current job. For example, organizations often move their sales rock-star into a VP of Sales position to oversee other sales people, when in fact, they aren’t even qualified to do that job because the skill sets and behavioral requirements are completely different from the previous position. Their success has propelled them up the career ladder to a place of incompetence.
This frequently happens in the IT community, too. A great developer will be given a “promotion” to project manager to lead a team of developers, and they quickly learn that they neither have capacity or desire to do so. They simply want to program and write code.
And, this happens with entrepreneurs as well. We all start our businesses doing something we love… being practitioners. If we successfully grow our businesses, ultimately we have to hire people. This pulls us away from our passion, and puts us into management. The natural evolution from practitioner to manager to leader to adviser is something I have personally experienced, and I have the battle scars to prove it – but that’s a column for another day.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of leadership for me when I ran Information Experts was letting go of people who worked hard to bring us from one level to the next. It is to be expected that those who help a company grow to $1 million will not be the same to help a company grow to $15 million. The “rock-star” employee that thrives in a start-up, entrepreneurial environment supervising a team of 3 is most likely not a fit for an executive position responsible for vision, strategy, and accountability for 20 people, in a process-centric environment.
I will always maintain that leaders are servants. We are in the position to serve. Therefore we must weigh our loyalty to a single employee versus our loyalty to the entire organization. We must always be making decisions that benefit the entire organization – the collective whole – over decisions that benefit a single person. And, it’s essential to build an organization that does not become too dependent on individuals, or the organization finds itself at the mercy of these people. They can never operate from a position of strength if they are afraid for the departure of key people.
So this begs the question: If at all possible, how can an organization prevent the need to release long-term loyal employees? It is the hardest thing I find about leadership. The answer is two fold:
1: Internally, organizations need clearly defined career paths for every position, and leadership must be committed to reinvesting in it’s employees so they may develop the skills needed to evolve with the organization. This includes clearly defined competencies and regular performance reviews based on those competencies, as well as education and individual coaching.
2: Externally, recruitment efforts can not be reactive… Simply in response to an immediate need. They must be strategic with an eye towards present and future needs. This means evaluating the experience of candidates (among many other things). Have they worked in a larger organization? Are they familiar and comfortable with infrastructure that is found at the “next level?”
Bringing in people to help you grow to the next level, as opposed to helping to fill an immediate need, goes a long way in preventing the outgrowth of a loyal and long-term employee.
Every hire must be strategic. Every hire must be made with an eye towards the future version of your organization. Following the GWC Model will go a long way in achieving this.
Here is the link to many valuable Entrepreneurial Operating System Tools.
They are highly effective when implemented as part of the larger system, but can also be used independently as you grow to the point of needing the entire framework.
Good luck – and let me know how this works out for you!
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