Career/Role Fit – a key aspect of being a great leader

This post won’t be very long as I feel strange even commenting on what great leadership looks like, but from my past experience, some of the best bosses I’ve had understand the idea of career/role fit.

For decades, leaders inside an organization would hire people exclusively based on their ability to perform a routine task over and over. People would take their place as a replaceable cog along an assembly line, complete the task over and over, and then leave at the end of the day. If the employee didn’t perform the task well enough, they would be fired and replaced with someone who could complete it in a more efficient manner.

It worked well at the time. But times have changed.

Knowledge work

As more and more work has shifted towards using your brain vs. using your hands, I’ve seen and experienced how leaders still base decisions solely on if an employee has the ability to perform the task or not. There’s very little thought put into asking “does this person actually want to do this? Is it meaningful to them?” As a leader, it’s your job to figure out what motivates each of your employees. If you don’t know it, how can you put them in a role that they pursue with passion and energy?

p.s. – I’m building something to help with this.

From my observations, the best leaders understand that when you assign roles and responsibilities based on the ability to perform a task (without considering motivations), you’re going to take a hit on productivity and happiness. Even for organizations who don’t care that much about employee ‘happiness’ – don’t you want each person to be hitting full productivity?

In competitive hiring markets, the industrial-age approach is a recipe for disaster, as people will leave to find a role that aligns better with their aspirations and motivations.

Long story short, if you’re a leader, take some time to learn what each employee is capable of, but also who they aspire to be at work (and in their career). If you don’t, it’s like running one of your machines at 50% efficiency.

What motivates me

I took this great assessment a while back, and here are the top two things that motivate me. Hopefully this helps paint a picture around motivations/career aspirations.