Stop The Vanilla Blog

It’s Not You, It’s Me!


“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”.

There Is No Questioning The Power Of The Question

Question“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”  That’s a quote from Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz.  I couldn’t agree more. Over the years in my consulting career, I have learned the importance of asking questions. I know that asking the right questions is one of the most valuable tools that SM Advisors can use to help our clients increase the profitability of their organization.

Could implementing the question more often in your communication style increase the effectiveness of your professional and personal relationships?  I would ask you to consider the following in regards to the power of the question:

•When you make a statement, you create judgment. When you ask a question, you create opportunity. I have seen the light bulb turn on when I say this to a client.  Suspending judgment and creating the opportunity for greater understanding through questions is a critical step in effective communication.  You don’t have to agree with your colleagues but you need to understand where they are coming from.

•You empower others by asking them a question.  A question empowers those around you to own and resolve their own challenges.  Questions encourage independence not dependence. The best leaders create a unified team of independent individuals that are not dependent on them for day-to-day decisions.

•The best ideas to solve a challenge in a department typically will come from those working in that department.  Questions help those with the challenge come up with the best ideas to solve it.  They just need a process that asks the right questions to bring out the solutions.       

•Some of the best questions to ask your fellow team mates to promote high quality discussions and professional development include the following:

  • What can I stop doing, start doing and continue doing to help you be more effective in your position?
  • Are you in the position that you can bring the greatest value to your organization and yourself?  What can you do more of to increase the value you bring to the team and organization?
  • What are your greatest frustrations in your current position?  What can I do to minimize them?
  •  How would you describe your “Dream” for our company and how do you see yourself being a part of it?

So next time you are in a situation where you want to give your opinion and make a statement, try to pose a couple of well thought out questions to create understanding and agreement.  It will bring more fulfilling relationships in all areas of your life.  Do you think you can do that?

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Emotional Intelligence Essential To Future Leaders

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5 Reasons To Prove You Are The Best


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6 Steps To Creating Differentiation For Your Company


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5 Benefits Of A Clear Differentiation


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5 Steps To Identify Your Target Market

It’s a business fundamental: you can’t be all things to all people and sell vanilla ice cream. We have talked about developing your competence and creating a differentiation for your organization.  Simply said, your competence is what you do better … [Continue reading]

3 Skills To Move Beyond Existing To Prosperity


Justin was a lot like you and me. He wanted to build a business that was respected by his peers and provide for his family and those of his employees. But after several years of 70-hour work weeks for him and others, he felt the business was not much … [Continue reading]