Posted by: bevmeldrum | January 17, 2008

Going from Good to Great – First Who Then What

Photo by Andrey ProkhorovThis is Day 3 of a series looking at the principles that are contained in Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Other’s Don’t“.

In undertaking the research Jim Collin’s said they were surprised to see rather than Level 5 leaders coming into an organisation and immediately setting a new vision and strategy they would first spend time getting the right people “on the bus”.

Once the right people were “on the bus” – and consequently the wrong people were “off the bus” – that was when they set the direction for the organisation.

Good to Great takes the idea of people being your greatest asset a stage further and says that the right people are your greatest asset.

This is all linked to what Marcus Buckingham calls the “strengths revolution”. For as long as we can remember managing staff and volunteers has revolved around trying to get individuals to improve on their weaknesses.

The Strengths Revolution suggests that we will be happier and more effective and productive individuals if we get to focus on things we are excellent at, rather than trying to become reasonable at things we are always going to be rubbish at.

What if everyone in your organisation focused on the things they were excellent at – what a happy and productive team you would have.

Read Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham for more on that subject.

So, getting the right people on the bus is about ensuring that people’s strengths match with the role they are doing.

In the Third Sector one of things we hate having to think about is letting people go. However, if we want to become a great organisation, that will last for many years after we have moved on, we need to be a bit braver about our hiring and firing decisions.

Keeping someone on board who is not using the strengths and who is not performing is not fair on either the rest of the team or on the individual involved.

Addressing a staff or volunteer issue like this, doesn’t have to focus on failures and weaknesses but can focus on what their strengths are and trying to find a role within the organisation that is more suited to them. If that isn’t possible, then you can support them to find another job that is more suited to their particular strengths. You can guarantee they will be happier and your own organisation will be more effective.

One final thought on this issue from Jim Collins:

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led – yes. But not tightly managed.”


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