Makarios Consulting Blog

Right People, Right Seats

A key ingredient in the recipe for business success is to have the right people in the right seats. That is, you want people who are aligned with your core values – the right people – and you want them in positions where they are effective and working at a very high level – the right seats. To put it another way, you want to be confident that your people “Get it” (understand their job), “Want it”(have a passion for their work), and have “Capacity” (have the skill and time to do their job well).

This sounds simple, but it is not. As leaders, it is easy to say “good-bye” to people who do not share your core values and who cannot perform at their job. In contrast, it is harder to address the situation where someone isn’t doing the job adequately, but he or she is a great person who is completely aligned with your core values and committed to your company. It can be even harder to confront the person who doesn’t share your values and is a pain to work with … but who is a superstar when it comes to delivering the goods.

Nevertheless, leaders must be courageous enough to take action in each of these situations. Otherwise, you end up with great people who are underperformers, which hurts overall productivity, or, you end up with toxic people who are high performers, which hurts overall morale. You can easily end up with both.

Taking action does not mean immediately firing anyone who does not fit the principle of “right people, right seats.” Rather, if you have the right person in the wrong seat, you might be able to find the right seat for them elsewhere in the company. Or, you may be able to bring them up to the mark in their current seat. Only if all else fails should it become necessary to let the person go.

Similarly, if you have the wrong person in the right seat, you need to have the tough conversation with them about their attitude, approach, and values and set up a development plan with clear expectations. Again, only if that fails should it become necessary to let the person go.

The important thing is to take decisive and courageous action to address any situation where you do not have the right people in the right seats. Failure to do so communicates two messages: “It’s okay to be an underperformer” and “It’s okay to be a jerk.” Since neither of those messages is conducive to business success, having the right people in the right seats is non-negotiable.