“It’s not you, it’s me! If you’re a fan of the Seinfeld show, you probably remember George Costanza making that statement as he navigated the dating world. Your damn right it’s me!
It’s also a saying that company leaders should often use when they are talking with their under-performing employees. At SM Advisors, we call it “skill set misalignment” and we see it over and over again in our role as strategy and talent advisors. We are brought in to evaluate and resolve a situation that involves an under-performing employee. Often, we find that the employee is trying their best but their natural gifts are not in alignment with the requirements of the position.
The employer thinks he is doing the employee a favor when they are actually setting them up to fail. In most cases, it looks like the employee has failed, but in fact the organization has let the employee down. The cost of these mistakes can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars: it is estimated that when you lose an employee, it can cost three to five times their annual salary.
So what do you do to avoid skill set misalignment? You must clearly define the skills, education and experience needed for the position. You have to define what you need before you can find what you need.
One approach to accomplishing this is through a job benchmarking process that defines an optimum performer in the position. You complete a job benchmark by:
1.) Listing the reasons the job exists
2.) Categorizing similar reasons and defining a key accountability for each category which
should lead to four to six key accountabilities for the position.
3.) Rank the key accountabilities in order of importance
4.) Weight them based on the percentage of time during a week the position is going to
spend on each key accountability.
These key accountabilities are the foundation to writing an accurate and effective job description for every position in your organization.
You can add behavioral science to the process by having each benchmarking team member complete an online job survey with the key accountabilities in front of them. The individual survey results are then combined to create the job benchmark. Through a gap report, you then compare the behavioral assessments of the individual against the benchmark to determine the fit for the position. In addition to promoting or hiring the right person the first time, you also now have the information in the gap report to create a very focused development plan for the employee.
One of management’s top responsibilities is to help employees succeed by putting them into positions that are in alignment with their natural gifts. At SM Advisors, we call this “home,” when an employee is in a position that matches their natural God-given skills and talents. In this situation, both the employee and the employer prosper. The employee loves their job and is typically well-compensated because they are performing at a high level. The employer has a high-performing employee who is bringing significant tangible value to the organization, and will do so for years to come. Wouldn’t it be great if all your employees were at “home” in their current positions? Skill set alignment is the first step in “building the team to achieve your dream”.