Oops…My Best People Are Not in My Key Roles!!

So what happens when we review what the senior management team identifies as the strategic roles in the company and they discover that they do not necessarily have the strongest people in these critical roles? Perhaps it has been someone who has been with the company for 25 years or maybe they got bumped up because the prior manager left unexpectedly. While everyone thinks they may have earned the opportunity to be in an important role in the organization they may not be the best person for that particular strategic role. I see this occurring in many organizations where the metric of seniority and tenure trumps competency and value. 

I remember a conversation I was having with a retired Air Force Colonel who told me that in the military they expect officers to change jobs every 5 years or so. “The Air Force doesn’t want people to get stale and that means new jobs and new responsibilities”. But in the private sector, he told me, he was surprised how many people had survived in their current role for 10-15-20-25 or 30 years just doing an okay job. But just an okay job in today’s competitive environment leaves any company behind the proverbial “eight ball”. 

Before you panic, however, remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so what is required is to evaluate who are your top performers, what are the key or critical positions and then evaluate the options for how to realign the organization to make certain that you get your best people in the key roles within your company. 

As Jack Welch, the legendary leader of General Electric once said “The team with the best players wins”.

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