“The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.”

– Walter Gilbey, 18th Century English Entrepreneur

I’ve managed many teams, big and small, and an important lesson I’ve learned, typically the hard way, is to get the right people, in the right roles. There is no way around it. Leaving the wrong people, in the wrong roles too long can really damage progress, productivity, and team morale. A team is only as strong as its weakest link.

The brutal fact is there are millions of the wrong people, in the wrong roles out there. When you come across these situations, put the right people, in the right roles before the weakest link breaks. The right people have the leadership traits, capabilities, skills, experience, and drive to take a team to the next level. The right roles involve clear accountabilities, empowerment, and the right resources, support, and direction.


How do you get the right people, in the right roles?

Here are the best practices for getting the right people, in the right roles.


Address the wrong people, in the wrong roles

When you have the wrong people, in the wrong roles, address the situation with compassion. Sometimes the answer is finding another role for them, sometimes it is mentorship, sometimes it is a demotion, and sometimes it is termination. Regardless, leaving the wrong person, in the wrong role is not fair to them or the team.


Find the right person

This can be a challenge. Hopefully, you have someone in the organization that is the right person. If so, count yourself lucky. If not, it’s time to go fishing in the ocean of talent out there. I’ve interviewed over 50 candidates to find the right person, who had the right skills, experience, self-motivation, and fit culturally. It is always worth it to hire the right person. If you find yourself settling, you haven’t found the right person. And, often, the right person can and should be much more skilled than you are for the role. Strategic leaders surround themselves and grow people that are better than themselves.


Use ROLES to create the right roles

When you find the right people, make sure you create a role that is right for them. Use the ROLES framework to define a role for success:

– What are the responsibilities and accountabilities of the role?
– Are the responsibilities and accountabilities clear?
– Are there enough responsibilities? Too many?
– Do the responsibilities fit the person?

– What constitutes success in one month, six months, and 1 year?
– Does the role have clear objectives and goals? Are they SMART goals?

– How will the role lead to growth, development, and more leadership opportunities?
– How will leadership interact and mentor the person in the role?
– What does leadership need to do to make this role successful?

– How will this person be empowered in this role?
– Does the person have the right resources?
– What are the top risks to the success of this role?

– What support does the person need to be set up for success…training, onboarding, mentorship, etc.?
– What needs to happen for stakeholders to support the role?
– Are the incentives for the role aligned with the desired behaviors?



To get you going on defining a job and somebody’s role, download the free and editable ROLES PowerPoint Worksheet.

hiring template example




 Learn more about Joe Newsum, the author of all this free content and a McKinsey Alum. I provide a suite of coaching and training services to realize the potential in you, your team, and your business. Learn more about me and my coaching philosophy.
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