According to research by The Gallup Organization,
- Select for Talent
- Define the Right Outcomes
- Focus on Strengths
- Find the Right Fit
All of this is covered in the book, First, Break All the Rules:
When Selecting for Talent, great managers interview candidates while looking for clues such as: Yearning -- what a person is drawn to; Rapid Learning, Flow -- when steps come naturally to someone, Almost Unconscious Glimpses of Excellence, and Satisfaction in prior roles. When designing interview questions, probe to uncover these clues. “Tell me about one of your greatest successes and how it all played out.” “What did you like best about the most favorite job you have ever had?”
Once in a role, a manager works with a direct report to Define the Right Outcomes for the role. Once the outcomes are defined, then the manager lets the direct report use their natural talents to find their own way to the result. Rather than prescribe the “one best way” to carry out a responsibility, the manager gives the person freedom to find their way. Defining outcomes is not as easy for some roles as they are for others. Another great book that has very good ideas for developing outcomes is Doug Smith’s, Make Success Measurable.
The manager allows the direct report to Focus on Strengths. Where possible, the direct report is given more responsibilities in arenas where they show natural talent and fewer where they do not. This requires treating people uniquely rather than as machines where every person in the same role has the exact same responsibilities. If a person must perform a duty they are not ideally suited for, then they try to manage around that weakness. For example, I have a friend who is poor at Excel, but great at making Power Point slides. She partners with a colleague who is the exact opposite – that’s a win-win.
The fourth function, Find the Right Fit, I think presents some of the greatest challenges to organizations. This is because sometimes a person is in a job that is actually a wonderful fit for them and for their talents -- but we want to promote them so we can reward them with better pay. This is the classic “Peter Principle” which suggests that people are promoted to their highest level of incompetence. Rather than doing that, Gallup suggests that organizations reward achievement and consider increasing compensation for people in the role they are already in. Finding the right fit also comes into play when working with them individually on their career development and the organization’s succession plans. If we see that a person can use more of their natural talents in other roles in the organization, then we should guide them into those roles.
Gallup’s award winning research demonstrates that when managers do these things well, it leads to more engaged employees, and that leads to higher levels of organization performance – enhanced Mission Impact for your nonprofit.