How to Avoid the costly Mistake of having Square Pegs in Round Holes

In my previous blog I asked the question whether your job is a good ‘fit’ for you I and shared with you some great questions to ask yourself if you are not sure. Here is an example of what happens when a highly qualified and fully committed executive is a poor match for his role, even though he has all of the skills and experience needed. Hopefully this is not your or your company’s experience.

When Joe (not his real name) was being considered for promotion, his managing director advised me that Joe would probably not get the opportunity to advance any further in his career due to the fact that he was a poor leader. Naturally my instincts and training kicked in and I asked my client to explain to me in careful detail what he specifically he meant by the words ‘poor leader.’

It transpired that Joe had a team of half a dozen direct reports for whom he was responsible, and none of them seemed to be developing any further in their roles under him. His was a highly operational position which involved lots of analysis and process thinking. Because of his seniority, experience, and length of service, Joe had previously been placed in this team leadership role where he was directly responsible for guiding and developing these six direct reports, for which he had almost no motivational preference. He had been seriously underperforming as a result.

For example, whenever any of his team came to Joe with a problem that needed his input, rather than help them to resolve the issue and guide them in developing their own understanding, Joe would invariably ‘take the monkey on his own back,’ close his office door and ‘fix the problem.’ Consequently his people would become frustrated with their lack of development and Joe would just become more overwhelmed and stressed from the burden of extra work he was heaping on to his own plate. The fact that he knew how best to attack the problem due to his own experience and ability was irrelevant, because as the saying goes… “No man is an island,” and it did not serve Joe, his team nor the company as a whole, for him to become a one man band in his department. There are many more specific examples like the above scenario, but I am sure you get the general idea of the situation my client was facing with Joe.

Sometimes all we need to to is find the difference that makes the difference with each individual.

When I completed Joe’s ‘motivational fingerprint’ through the Precision Profiling process, it became immediately obvious to me that he had all of the attributes and motivations that were ideally suited for a highly conceptual and analytical role at a very strategic level, and not at the cut and thrust of daily operations, and certainly not at a level of interaction needed for the development of the people around him. All of the seven or eight related patterns that were critical for people development and team leadership were in the lowest quartile of Joes’ forty eight motivational preferences, so even though he had the skill and training necessary to perform this type of leadership role, it was not in Joe’s motivational make-up to be that way. What he did have in ‘spades’ in his top quartile of preferences were at least fourteen key motivational patterns that would be needed for a highly strategic and analytical role where working individually in an environment devoid of having people around to cause distractions, was the best formula for success.

After reviewing Joe’s material and interpreting what his reports were telling me, I sat down with Joe’s managing director and asked him what he had observed Joe’s best attributes to be. It came as no surprise to me to hear my client’s feedback of how wonderful Joe was at analysing complex problems and producing carefully considered reports that covered all of the conflicting priorities and produced strategic recommendations for the way ahead.

I then asked my client to describe the tasks and responsibilities of the new role for which Joe was being overlooked. Surprise, surprise. The new promotion would involve mostly strategic analysis with an overview that required literally no day-to-day operational involvement and only one direct report – the executive in Joe’s current position.

As a result of my client’s careful re-think of the requirements of the new role, Joe was consequently promoted into this more strategic role for which he was ideally suited and had all the motivational drivers to perform at optimum effectiveness.

This was a role he revelled in and proved the value of the change in position many times over for both Joe and the organisation. And because Joe had always been a loyal and dedicated employee, my client also avoided the risk of potentially upsetting an extremely capable executive whose own performance may have suffered irreparable damage if he had been passed over as not deserving of the promotion. As an added bonus, his former direct reports gained a new manager who was ‘tailor-made’ for the role of team leader and mentor.

So by not making the costly mistake of misjudging a highly capable and loyal manager due to incorrect assessment of his motivational preferences, my client managed to avoid a potentially disastrous situation. This was all due to his Senior Executive being assessed for success not distress.

As I said at the beginning, too many companies place square pegs in round holes, and then wonder why their people fail to perform at their optimum level. There is another way.

Until next time… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.   Have a great week – Brian

Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick?  Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your staff.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

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