Right people. Right seats. What does it really mean?

Paul Moen

We often hear leaders of companies credit their success to having “good people,” but what does that mean? Whenever we ask leaders to explain, we get different responses and different perspectives. Simply put, it’s about getting the right people in the right seats. As Jim Collins described in his book, “Good to Great,” the right people are those employees who share your company’s core values and help to support a culture based on those values. The right seat means that an employee is operating within their area of greatest skill and passion within an organization. In any business, a critical part of an executive’s job is to hire, fire, review, reward and recognize people.

Using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), also referred to as Traction, let’s take a look at how this can be done in practical terms.


The right people

The most important questions we ask of any prospective employee are questions that answer: “What are the candidate’s core values?” This helps to uncover whether or not an individual aligns with the company’s values and culture. It helps identify the right people for any organization. Incorporating core values in the review process is equally important.

The EOS tool that helps in this discovery is called the People Analyzer. Using a simple grid format, individual names are listed down the first column, and the company’s core values across the top. Employees are evaluated according to their adherence to each of the company’s core values with a simple plus or minus rating. (Adherence to core values observed consistently earns a plus; adherence to core values rarely observed earns a minus; inconsistent adherence earns a plus/minus.)

Leadership sets the minimally accepted score, known as “The Bar.” If an individual does not meet The Bar, an improvement program with frequent follow-up is recommended. Employees should be given an opportunity to improve with management monitoring their performance. If performance does not improve, a formal warning and/or exit strategy must be developed.


The right seats

Once you are confident you have identified the right people, it’s important to get them into the right seats. That means all people can use their Unique Abilities (a concept created by Daniel Sullivan of The Strategic Coach, Inc.) and those abilities are clearly in line with their roles and responsibilities. A seat cannot be created until the organization is structured in the right way so as to propel it to the next level.

To create that structure, EOS uses a tool called the Accountability Chart. It is a supercharged organizational chart that, when completed, helps owners and leadership teams clearly grasp their own roles and responsibilities. This tool addresses the key question: “What is the right structure to move the organization forward in the next six to twelve months?”

Starting with a blank slate, the Accountability Chart is built without employee names identified in the seats (org chart boxes). Leadership looks at the function of the seat first to identify what the company needs in terms of structure and function to achieve long-term success. This approach forces leadership to view its organization in a different way and to address foundational people issues that may be holding it back. Once the Accountability Chart has been built, it should look like an organizational chart with at least five bullets that illustrate the major responsibilities/roles of each function.

Finally, when functions and roles have been filled in, it is time to put the right people in the right seats using a tool called GWC. This is another simple, evaluative process that asks three questions of each person being considered for a seat: Does the person “Get It”, or understand their role? Does the person “Want It,” or like the job? And, does the person have the “Capacity to Do It,” defined as emotional and mental capacity, along with the necessary time to do the job well. If the answer to any of these three questions is “no,” it’s not the right seat for the person because the job does not fit their Unique Ability.

We know what great leaders mean when they attribute their success to surrounding themselves with great people. By deploying the simple, strategic tools offered by EOS, your leadership team can put the right people in the right seats and take your organization from good to great.

Paul Moen is a former community bank chief financial officer. He now is a business advisor with Resultants For Business. On April 19, Paul Moen will share the EOS story and its impact on an organization’s culture in a free webinar sponsored by BankBeatGroups. Paul can be reached at [email protected].