Angie Henson - March 15, 2024

9 Ways to Get the Right Person in the Right Seat at Work

Good employees become great employees in their ideal roles.

Most companies would agree that their employees are their greatest asset. Yet, employee turnover rates continue to climb as the modern workplace evolves. Low pay, lack of opportunities, and respect issues are among the most commonly cited reasons employees leave jobs, but the underlying factor of improper job fit is often overlooked.

In this blog post, we break down the “right person right seat” concept and review the most effective ways to consistently put workers into roles that help them (and their companies) succeed.

Understanding the concept of right person, right seat

In his 2012 bestseller entitled, “Traction: Get a Grip on your Business,” Gino Wickman created the Traction Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a framework designed to help entrepreneurs run and scale their businesses effectively. By expanding on the concept originated by Jim Collins in his own 2001 bestseller, “Good to Great,” Wickman refined the two-step process of putting the “right people in the right seats” by emphasizing:
●Finding employees who align closely with the company culture and values
●Putting employees into roles that best align with their abilities and interests
Beyond a basic pairing of company needs and individual abilities, skill alignment factors in the experience, motivation, and goals of each employee to ensure a long-term fit that can lead to further growth opportunities. With people and seats aligned, morale climbs and attrition plummets, leading to a more productive, stable, and successful business environment.

Benefits of having the right person in the right seat

It may seem obvious that force-fitting employees into the wrong roles is not ideal, but labor shortages, shifting priorities, and communication issues can make it difficult for business leaders to recognize when a misalignment occurs. Given the long list of benefits below, putting the right person in the right seat at work should always be a high priority.
● Employees are more productive when they are in a role that aligns with their skill set and they feel valued.
● Employee satisfaction and engagement levels climb when they use their skills to produce tangible benefits and are recognized for their accomplishments.
Lower voluntary turnover and talent acquisition costs are the byproduct of creating the right culture and growth opportunities. While fair pay is always on employees’ radars, having a sense of purpose, flexibility, and a clear future are equally influential.
Teamwork and collaboration improve when employees are in the right seats. An environment where each employee leverages their strengths fosters innovative solutions and exchanges.

Strategies to identify the right person for the job

Professional football scouts review players based on their athletic ability, team needs, and personality fit with the current team. This same approach can be applied to organizations of all types when the values, strengths, and weaknesses of new or potential employees are reviewed.

Evaluating the cultural fit and underlying motivation of each person takes time and effort. The first four keys to getting the right person in the right seat focus on individual characteristics by utilizing:

1.      Employee skill assessments to evaluate strengths and weaknesses.

2.      Performance data reviews (for existing employees) to identify when, where, and how they have excelled in the past.

3.      Standardized personality tests to gauge the fit with existing team members.

4.      Interviews to determine whether a worker’s core values align with the organization and intangible “chemistry” exists between team members in face-to-face settings.

An NFL owner might simply select the “best available athlete” then find new ways to deploy their skills, but the career goals and aspirations of ordinary workers (i.e., the rest of us) should always be considered upfront to ensure the paths employees seek are available.

Strategies to match the right person with the right seat

Once you have identified the right person, you can set them up for long-term success by placing them in the right seat (role). Putting the right person in the wrong seat can lead to frustration, boredom, listlessness, and other behaviors that can be misinterpreted as performance issues.

Five additional keys that close the loop by putting employees in the right seat are:

1.      Identifying job requirements and responsibilities clearly so both the employee and employer understand the expectations.

2.      Using the identified employee strengths and weaknesses to find a position that benefits from the former while overcoming or developing the latter.

3.      Evaluating team dynamics and communication styles in existing groups to see where personality fit issues can be addressed through reassignment.

4.      Facilitating job rotations and training programs to expose employees to more potential career options.

5.      Implementing coaching and mentoring systems to acquaint new employees with company norms and values while helping them build relationships and establish goals.

Best practices for ongoing management and evaluation

To be successful, the right person right seat philosophy should extend beyond recruiting and hiring to become an ongoing employee development process. Mentoring and coaching should be continued to provide useful guidance throughout an employee’s tenure. Regular, open communication and honest feedback from employees can ensure their career trajectory remains positive.

Employees must assume responsibility for their own career paths, but employers can encourage career growth and development through training programs, industry conferences, networking, and cross-training. Regular performance evaluations become an affirmation of these development activities, rather than the dreaded annual judgment many employees fear.

In conclusion

Over the past two decades, business experts have developed the tools and practices needed to make “right person right seat” more than a catchphrase. High turnover rates, ratcheting competition, and the productivity benefits that come from aligning people and seats correctly have made it harder to justify force-fitting employees into their roles, or leaving job alignment to chance. Finding people that fit your organization well, then finding them roles that align with their skills and aspirations leads to more successful business outcomes.

Right person right seat: FAQs

How do you identify the right seat for an employee?

Accountability charts are highly detailed organizational charts that include the responsibilities and capabilities required for each role. Comparing the attributes of each employee to the values listed on the chart allows companies to find the right seats for employees consistently.

What should you do if an employee is not in the right seat?

If an employee’s feedback or performance points to a misalignment with their current role, the employee and all current openings should be re-evaluated to determine if a better fit can be found or created within the organization.

How do you balance the needs of the company with the needs of the employee when matching the right person with the right seat?

Force-fitting employees into their roles to keep the company staffed might seem like a necessary sacrifice, but the turnover, lack of engagement, and low morale this strategy leads to always makes the right person right seat method the best option for long-term success.

How often should you review employee placement within the company?

Employee placement can be part of the broader annual review process, but quarterly check-ins and dedicated career development conversations on a monthly basis help ensure the job fit remains aligned.

How can you ensure the right person stays in the right seat long-term?

Ongoing skill assessments, regular check-ins, and access to professional growth opportunities are among the factors that keep the right person in their seat over the long haul.


Tags: Business Growth Business Leadership

  1. About the Author:

  2. About the Author:

    As a Principal at Valesco, Angie Henson serves in key roles related to new investment origination, portfolio management, and investor relations. She directs the firm’s strategic acquisition planning and program management as acting head of research and business development operations since 2002. Angie holds a Bachelor of Science from Tarleton State University and a certificate in entrepreneurial studies from Southern Methodist University.

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