One of my favorite movies is the 1959 classic “Ben Hur.” In the movie, the main character, Judah Ben Hur, has the opportunity to drive four beautiful white Arabian horses in a great chariot race. It’s one of the most amazing action sequences in movie history. Anyway, the way he happens to be driving in this race is a main part of the story. He was traveling back home to Jerusalem and stopped along the way to rest. During that stop over, he saw these horses practicing. He impressed their owner by predicting that they would not be able to hold an approaching turn on the track. After he is proven correct, he explains that the owner should put the slower, steadier horse on the inside to anchor the team in the hairpin turns and the swifter horse on the outside so he can keep up as the team turns. Having the horses in the right position on the team is critical to winning the race. You will have to watch the movie to find out what happens.
Whether you want to talk about having the right horse in the right place on the team, the right people in the right seat on the bus, or, as one plant president put it, “Round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes,” the point here is that you want to have the best people for the job doing the job. It’s the Engager Dynamic we call “Optimize.” The definition of “Optimize” is “to make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource).”
What Needs To Be Done?
Know the job requirements and objectives. Does this job require creativity or does it require someone with keen attention to detail? Is it a critical back-of-the-house support role or is it an out-front role that requires winsome people skills? Re-think the job description from the standpoint of what qualities and skills would make a person most successful in this job considering the outcomes we need?
Some may be counter-intuitive. A police officer, for example, should be alert, watchful, tough enough to handle themselves in the face of criminal activity. But, what if a particular patrol area was experiencing a rise in criminal activity because the neighbors weren’t willing to stand up against new thugs? What other skills might help the officer achieve a reduction in crime? Some trust/community/team building might be useful.
What Are They Best At?
Know your people’s best skills. This requires that you spend time with your people. Observe not only how they perform their work, but watch thy dynamics between people and listen to conversations. What are their outside interests or hobbies. Do they play an instrument, hunt, drive a race car? When I’m new at a location, I have one-on-one interviews with leaders 3 levels deep where I ask, “What are you best at?” There are also many temperament, and skills inventories available that will help you get to know your people. Some of them are even fun, but they’re all interesting.
The Multiplication Effect
Understanding and using the Engager Dynamic, Optimize, will have a multiplication effect. What do I mean? You will get a double benefit that will bring exponential results.
- People who are best at the work will be doing it. There is a pretty obvious direct benefit to that.
- People also love to bring their best skills to work every day. When you allow them to do that they become engaged. When your people are engaged, they will give their discretionary talent and effort to the job. In other words, they will be thinking of ways to make the work and outcomes better rather than just how to get through the day with the least amount of effort.
When you have your best people on the job looking for ways to improve the outcomes, the results are exponential.