Right Talent in the Right Seat

Nov 7, 2022

We hear it all the time, right? We need the right talent, in the right seat, at the right time. But how do we achieve that? The good news is — we don’t.

Wait, you say — that doesn’t make sense! Hear me out. The idea of having the right talent in the right seat at the right time is an aspirational goal, something business owners and operators need to be thinking about all the time. It isn’t a one-and-done, check-it-off-the-to-do-list action. Businesses are dynamic and ever-changing. Our key contributors, whether leaders or employees, are growing and developing. Life circumstances change. People’s rationale for working in your business changes, too.

With so much constant change, we are better served to think about the complex process of talent evolution within the context of business evolution. This means always scanning the virtual room looking at how each individual, and how the team collectively, is performing. We may hit a stride where we have some of the best people working for us at the ideal time and magic happens. Then, the dynamic shifts. That really talented operations leader moves out of state to follow his wife’s career. The conscientious accounting expert faces a family crisis and takes an extended leave of absence. That charismatic leader who has drawn everyone in, leaves for her next and bigger role.

If we think about right talent/right seat/right time as a one-and-done proposition, we’ll be frustrated and pulling our hair out when these inevitable transitions happen. However, by starting the game with the belief that we are constantly evolving, and by believing the definition of “right” person/seat/time is fluid, these bumps can become opportunities and part of the expected evolution rather than throwing us into reaction mode.

With me so far? Great! There’s benefit in this thinking for your employees, too. When they see a company providing opportunities for employees to do their best work, and they see that the inevitable change is met with hope and resiliency, they are encouraged and excited to see where the road leads and what the future holds. Maybe their turn is next. Maybe they will be seen as someone who can share a seat at the table. Maybe they will voluntarily be called to perform at their best level — assuring that a future pool of eager leaders is ready for the next challenge.

Conversely, if your employees see you step into panic mode as you react to the next seismic shift in talent in the organization, they will fall into reaction mode, too. Maybe this isn’t the right place for me. Maybe I’m not in the right seat. Maybe I can find more future-focused leadership at another employer. In today’s tough labor market, that’s dangerous and costly thinking.

Instead, we recommend business owners and leaders adopt a philosophy of constant evolution. The right person in the right seat at the right time is the direction we are heading, not the final destination. It means there will be detours along the journey and the team will be ever-changing — and that’s OK. In fact, it’s exactly as it should be.

Evolution is the name of our game.

Lynce is the HR  director consultant for Cleveland-headquartered ConnectedHR, which also has an office in Austin, Texas.

This article appeared in Crain’s Cleveland Business 

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