Failing to Recruit the Right People

Is Always Bad and Even Worse When an Organization is in Decline
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 25

I’ve seen it many times. The right people make all the difference for good. The right people are how you move from good to great.

The wrong people make all the difference in the other direction. The wrong people are how the mighty (or even the “quite good") fall from good to mediocre to bad to terrible.

In Good to Great, a key theme: having the right people in the right places in the organization is how it moves from being good to great. Discipline about hiring the right people, training them, providing them with the resources they need and then continuing in their ongoing development is key to achieving organizational “mission accomplished” results. Without the right people, an organization cannot move into the next phase of disciplined thinking which leads to disciplined action.

The qualified people (the right people) are “self-managed” and “self-motivated” people. Collins says this is the #1 ingredient for a culture of discipline. Collins points out that the wrong people see themselves as having jobs. The right people see themselves as having responsibilities and they fully accept those responsibilities.

When you have people like this, then you do not need the proliferation of rules and bureaucracy to keep them producing. The right people are already self-motivated and responsible to do good work and obtain great results.

When organizations are growing, whether it is through quality growth or the undisciplined pursuit of more (the 2nd stage of decline) - it is difficult to find the qualified people needed to sustain that growth.

In this second stage of decline, you will fill key seats with the wrong people. Then, to compensate for their inadequacies, you create bureaucracy and excessive supervision. This cumbersome system then drives good people away.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Competent people will always be frustrated with two things:

First: too much bureaucracy
Then: having to work with less competent people, who can’t carry their load and who create more work for the high producers.

The competent people see the writing on the wall and leave. The decline marches on. It is always costly to the organization to fill a seat with the wrong person. It is better to have the seat remain empty and keep looking. It is always costly to the organization to keep a “wrong person” in a seat. It is better to remove them and have the seat empty.

Don’t create empty seats in the undisciplined pursuit of more.

In all instances, senior leaders know this: the more significant the “seat on the bus” the more vital it is that you have highly motivated, substantially trained, get-the-job-done people in those seats. If you do not - you are setting yourself up for constant frustration.

Take a little bit of time to think about your key seats in the organization. Do you have the right people there? You will know by asking these questions.

Why do we have this particular seat?

Is it for a mission critical role?
How productive is the person in that role?
How much supervision do they need?
Are they highly motivated and go above expectation in their work?
If they leave your organization will they leave a vacant seat that is hard to fill?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International