Getting More from (the Right) People

(This week’s feature article is by long-time friend of sparkspace, Mike Paton A phenomenal teacher, consultant and mentor, Mike is conducting a free workshop at sparkspace on April 27th called “Getting a Grip on your Business. CLICK HERE for details)

I have asked hundreds of entrepreneurs what prompted them to start a business, and not one of them has ever said, “Because I just LOVE managing people.”

Even during a massive economic crisis, “people problems” seem to be a frequent and painful cause of frustration for business owners and leaders. They’re frustrated about employees, partners, vendors, customers…none of them listen, or get it, or care. Unless you’ve just joined the workforce or been working alone for your entire career, you know precisely what I mean.

This is the third article in a series I’m writing. The first article in this series introduced readers to the Six Key Components(TM) of a well-run business; the second article further described the Vision Component. If you easily connect the word “employees” with “frustration,” you’ll enjoy the focus of today’s article – strengthening the People Component.

There are thousands of books, seminars and strategies that can help you find and keep great people. Most provide valuable insight, articulate strategies, and compelling jargon, but in many companies it’s just not that complicated. To have a great team, focus on getting the Right People in the Right Seats – you must have both.

What are “Right People?” They’re employees who share your core values. They “fit” your organization, and it fits them. “Right Seats” means everyone has the talent, skills and experience to excel at something that’s critical to your business. When you have 100% Right People in the Right Seats you have an ultra-efficient organization full of happy employees and healthy teams who get consistently exceptional results.

If creating such an organization seems like a pipe dream, your skepticism is understandable. Many of our clients felt the same way when we began working together to strengthen the People Component. Here’s what we’ve done (and the practical tools we’ve used) to change their mind:

1. Discover and Define Your Core Values – the qualities and attributes that describe the very best people in your organization. You don’t “create” core values because they already exist – you just need to define them.

2. Use your Core Values to hire, train, manage, and reward your people. Our teams use a simple tool called the People Analyzer to evaluate each employee and build an enduring culture full of all “Right People.”

3. Build an Accountability Chart to create the ideal structure for your organization:

a. Start from Scratch – take history and people out of the equation. Create the simplest and best structure for your organization. Include only those seats critical for your success over the next 6-12 months.

b. Define Roles. For each critical seat, identify the 5 things you need to excel at in order to take the company to the next level. Look forward – don’t think about how things used to work or who’s always done them.

c. Put Right People in Right Seats. With your ideal structure defined, you can now place employees who share your core values into each open seat. You can use a simple tool called “GWC” to make sure each seat owner has the talent, skills and experience necessary to excel at the 5 Roles in that seat. To be a “Right Seat,” each employee must:

i. Get It – have a brain that’s wired in a way to understand the rigors of the job at a fundamental level. For example, you wouldn’t hire someone who’s wired as a bookkeeper to be a salesperson, and vice versa.

ii. Want It – be genuinely driven to excel in this job. You can’t pay someone to want it, beg them to want it, or kick them in the tail to want it.

iii. Have the Capacity to do it – possess the intellect, the ability, the skills and experience to consistently do the job well in the time allotted.

If you follow these steps in your own company, you will almost certainly expose two people issues that need to be solved. The first is Right Person, Wrong Seat. You have someone who shares your values, they’ve been around for ever, you love them – but they’re in the wrong seat. They may not get it, they may not want it; they may lack the capacity – whatever it is they’re just in the wrong seat. Hopefully in your organization there is a different seat for that person – but if there isn’t (assuming you’re a “for-profit” business) you must make tough people decisions.

The second people issue is Right Seat, Wrong Person. You have a talented, productive person – they absolutely get it, want it, have the capacity to do it – they just don’t share your core values. They’re “below the bar” on the People Analyzer. And as tough as it is, you must let them go. These people are KILLING your culture; they’re chipping away at you in ways you can’t even see. They’re consuming your time and energy; they’re making other people in the company miserable. Long term they do far more damage than good.

Using these tools and making those tough decisions, you’ll ultimately get to a point where everyone on your team – 10 of 10 or 25 of 25 or 60 of 60 – are the Right People in the Right Seats. When that happens (as it does with our clients) – your company will flourish, your life will become more peaceful and more fun, and you may just start to LOVE managing people.


Here you'll find ideas, tips, and techniques to help make your next offsite your best meeting yet.We've learned a lot during the 15,000+ meetings we've hosted, and we never stop learning (and sharing) because meetings and teams are always evolving. Be sure to leave comments and join the conversation!