Innovation Junkies Podcast

Right People, Right Place, Right Priorities

The Jeffs talk about organizational effectiveness. They dive into getting the right people in the right seats. How to motivate your team to pursue excellence & The importance of having clear priorities.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week, we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast. 


Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. I’m Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine:
Hey, and this is Jeff Amerine. I can’t believe we’re back. How lucky are we?

Jeff Standridge:
Hey, we are back and it is almost fall.

Jeff Amerine:
Football season is in full gear.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right, man, I’m excited about that.

Jeff Amerine:
Go Hogs and go Bears.

Jeff Standridge:
Last Saturday was a joyous day.

Jeff Amerine:
Yes, it was. We need a few more like that. About 10 more up here in Fayetteville would be great.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s exactly right. Well hey, we’re making our shift. So we’ve spent some time talking about organizational effectiveness over the last few weeks and revenue velocity a few weeks before that. Now we’re making our shift for the next few episodes and talking about operational effectiveness. How do we operate our organizations at the highest degree of effectiveness that we can? And our episode today is how do we get the right people in the right seats and keep them focused on the right things.

Jeff Amerine:
Now it’s super, and part of the reason why the Razorbacks won nine games last year was because we had the right leader in Sam Pittman. He had the right offensive coordinator in Kendal Briles, and he had the right defensive coordinator with Barry Odom. That was clear that the rest of it would fall from that. The right people and the right seats focused on the right things.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. So start with right people. To know whether or not you have the right people. There are really two components and we like to talk about culture and competency or results and relationships, so to speak. They have to be individually competent to produce whatever it is that you’re looking for them to produce, but they also have to be a cultural fit with the other people in the organization. The shared or core values that you’ve established to the organization. And if you sacrifice one over the other, you’ll ultimately lose them both in the end. So having this balance of the right people, who have the right level of competence and who fit within the culture of the organization well is vitally important.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, it’s hugely important. And it’s one of those things that forces you at times as a leader to make some tough decisions, where you’ve got great people that either aren’t a cultural fit or in the wrong seat. And you have to figure out how to move them in a way that will either make them effective in the organization or move them onto their next opportunity elsewhere.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. So we’ve got the right people. Then we start thinking about the right seats. We spent the last episode talking about the organization and the work and what have you. So we have to have an understanding of where the swim lanes are and who’s responsible for what, who reports to whom and those kinds of things. But we also have to make sure that the work is properly aligned within that as well. So talk a little bit about that.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, well, and it goes back to something that we’ve referenced traction in Gino Wickman before, but he will, when he is assessing people, he will go through a process of suggesting they need to get it, they need to want it, and they need to have the capability to be successful at it. And then there’s all those other cultural pieces as well. But starting with GWC, get it, want it, and capability, that gives you a very clear way of saying this is a person that has the skills and they’ve got the right attitude and they’re hungry and they want to make it work. And I think that’s crucially important and it’s something that needs to be reassessed all the time, in all directions really.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. So we got the right people, based upon culture and competency. We got them in the right seats, based upon the organization and the work that’s properly aligned. And then they have this capacity to do the work with excellence and the want to, or the motivation to do it with excellence. So it’s one thing to have the capacity or the competency or the capability to operate at excellence, but they have to also have the motivation and the want to as well.

Jeff Amerine:
And some of that motivation, it can be both internally generated, they’re just that type of person, but it can also be externally incentivized as well. It’s the right kind of can-do, out to win, out to be successful culture will tend to buoy those people and bring the right kind of attitude if it’s positive, for sure.

Jeff Standridge:
Have you seen a situation where you’ve got this rockstar performer, whether it’s a top sales producer or a top technical producer, but they just didn’t have the want to or they didn’t have the cultural alignment? And how do you deal with that situation?

Jeff Amerine:
Well, and it can also be things like you think about sales professionals, they may just be burned out. Some of these positions can be a grind, it can be consuming. And so when you get to that point, where you don’t see the motivation there or you’re experiencing burnout, maybe they’re not taking enough time off.

It’s an interesting correlation of people overworking and pushing themselves a little too hard. So as a leader, you constantly have to be monitoring those checkpoints. And when you get to the point that it’s clear that a change needs to be made, you’re not doing anybody any favors by continuing to let it go. You need to make a change. And again, sometimes that can be lateral movement, sometimes that can be removing them from the organization. But you have to take action. Once you get a track record of people clearly not being motivated to do what needs to be done, if you can’t coach them up, you’ve got to coach them out.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s a good point. And I’ve often said that when you make a difficult decision like that, and it is difficult to part ways with any employee or to invite them to pursue opportunities in someone else’s company, as I’ve often said. It’s difficult to do, but you very routinely get feedback in short order that you’ve done the right thing.

And this just happened in a business that I’m pretty close to just in the last week, where they parted ways and it was an amicable split. But there was a parting of the ways, and then three or four employees came forward and said, “Well, I didn’t want to tell you about this, but let me share some additional information with you.” Immediate validation that you know what, we did the right thing. It was hard, but we did the right thing.

Jeff Amerine:
Well, and if you don’t do that, when you have a person or two that is not meeting the cultural expectation or they’re not highly motivated and they’re not performing, if you condone that and you let it go, it’s poison in the organization. It’s a toxic cancer that will infect everything else that’s happening. So you have to take action. A lot of times it’s a realization, “Gee, we probably should have done something about that sooner.” Because you want to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Jeff Standridge:
We talked about core values some time ago, and the fact that they’re only core if you’re willing to hire and fire against them, otherwise they’re not core. They’re only as strong as your unwillingness to hire and fire against them. And it’s a tough thing to do. Jack Welch at GE, he said, if you’ve got someone who’s struggling to perform, but they’re a cultural fit for the organization, it’s probably because you have the wrong combination of responsibilities. Flex their job, flex their responsibilities, and find the right mix of things that they can do well, capacity and want to, and they will soar if they’re a cultural fit. If they’re not a cultural fit, no matter how well they’re performing, you got to get rid of them immediately or they will spoil the entire organization.

Jeff Amerine:
And good, you’re exactly right. And the next thing here is this idea of, and this can be a challenge, highly productive people, highly creative people like to do a lot of things. If they’re getting outside of their swim lane or they’re chasing shiny objects or they’re chasing things that are maybe else in someone else’s lane, how do you manage that or lead them through that, without stifling that initiative, that excitement they might have towards being creative and looking at other things that are outside their main focus?

Jeff Standridge:
It’s a great question. It’s a hard thing to correct once it occurs. And so the right thing to do is create boundaries, so that it doesn’t occur if you can. So to sit down with an employee and say, “Hey, look, here are your focus areas. Here are the things I need you focused on. Let’s talk about each of these three or four or five things, whatever those are, and let’s talk about your responsibilities in those. Let’s talk about what kind of leadership you need from me in order to be successful in those things. But those are the things that I want you focused on. Anything outside of that, we need to talk about it.” And if you do that on the front end, then you don’t have to remediate or take corrective action on the back end because it’s hard to correct it once it occurs.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, it is. I think that’s a valid way to do it. And if you do have somebody that has more capacity to take on more, you just make it a discussion, “Hey, you want an additional project, you think you can handle it? Let’s talk about it first.” And then that swim lane can broaden in a rational way, rather than it just being sort of, not that I’ve ever been accused of this sort of the rogue cowboy move of people taking stuff on because they thought it was fun or interesting.

Jeff Standridge:
I have that going on right now with a top performer in an organization that you and I are both involved in right here in Conway. And I’ve told her, “Hey, look, your capacity for work is phenomenal and I’m probably going to test that capacity for work. So if I start empowering you to do too many things, then I want you to come back to me and say, ‘Hey, I think I’ve reached my limit.’” So far, I haven’t found that limit.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, it’s great.

Jeff Standridge:
Yep. Good stuff.

Jeff Amerine:
Good stuff, Jeff.

Jeff Standridge:
So right. Right people in the right seats, which is about culture and competency. The right people in the right seats is about the organization and the workflow and that the work’s properly aligned. The capacity to do the job with excellence and the motivation to do the job with excellence. And then finally, very clear priorities that they are focused on and that they know they’re focused on. And with some kind of a comeback, if there’s any distraction there at all. Those are the ways that you get the right people in the right seats and keep them focused on the right things.

Jeff Amerine:
Fantastic.

Jeff Standridge:
Good stuff. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. See you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
Feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content. So if you like this episode, be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth and innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

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