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Putting A Trapezoidal Peg Into A Heptagonal Hole

By Burk Moreland April 22, 2015

Trap_peg_in_heptagonal_hole.jpgMany have heard the phrase “putting a square peg in a round hole.” But, when it comes to people, I believe most cases are much more complicated than that. There are an infinite number of shapes, not just two.

Recently I spoke to one of my coaching clients about her staffing needs given the accelerated growth we had created for her business. She is on track to double her business from last year and what was in place to get the job done is now only half enough.

At first, her choices seemed obvious, if limited:
1) hire more people
2) have the current people work more hours

Each response has both merit and drawbacks. By hiring more people, she’d be prepared, but that entails a financial risk until she has the business to support them. Having her current staff work more may seem fiscally sound but can create burnout, resentment and even less productivity.

Too often we get trapped into light switch thinking. It’s either on or off, A or B. With a little creativity, however, most decisions can be made with a more fine-tuned approach, like a dimmer switch.

Too often we get trapped into light switch thinking. It’s either on or off, A or B. With a little creativity, however, most decisions can be made with a more fine-tuned approach, like a dimmer switch. In the case of my client, the ideal solution wasn’t having people work more or having more people work, but rather to have her current staff work more efficiently and effectively.

We invested hours in personality profiles, analysis, interviews and discussions to help guide us in the overall plan and found several staff members who did not enjoy portions of their job. They felt they weren’t as effective as they could be if they were doing other things. Once we had a better picture of what everyone was good at and enjoyed, we started with a clean slate and moved people into the positions and tasks that best suited them.

It is a gradual process of change, but the results have been fantastic. Not only is everyone more productive, they are happier doing their jobs because they aren’t expending huge amounts of mental energy on things that don’t come naturally. They can really ramp up their work and everyone wins.

When assessing your staffing needs, consider these points:

  • Utilizing what you have in a more efficient way can get you through the current plateau until you can afford to hire that new person.
  • When everyone is being deployed to their highest and best use, great things happen — morale improves, efficiency skyrockets and, as a by-product, results do as well.
  • Don’t have people doing things simply because they were there when the task needed to be assigned. Consider who is the best person for the task. If you aren’t 100% sure, get some help to determine who should be doing what.
  • Your people are the most valuable asset you have in your company. Making sure you take care of them will many times determine your ability to break through and achieve the results you want.

With a little time and effort, you can get the heptagonal peg into the heptagonal hole! Just remember, those results are out there…. Let me help you find them!

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