Right Seat for Lower Level Work (A Passion Alternative)

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Last week I suggested a way to think about “RIght Person – Right Seat.” Right Person being a great cultural fit and Right Seat being where a person has an aptitude and passion. Let’s look at this idea of passion. In the “real world” not all people will be passionate about all jobs. And they don’t have to be. This is especially true for lower-level, more tactical roles where people may simply be earning a living.  

Examples are handling AP or doing order entry or scheduling. These are not jobs that people necessarily have a passion for and yet we want for their sake and for ours that the work be a good fit; that they have ability and find it enjoyable.  

So how can we know if a person is in the right seat for these kinds of jobs? Let me suggest the following. 

FIRST there’s the question of personality. Different personalities enjoy different roles. An outgoing, gregarious, inspirational type will not be happy tucked away in a corner working on spreadsheets. But someone more quiet and cautious will enjoy careful, detailed work out of the spotlight.   

There are many good personality assessments. My go-to is DiSC. So much can be learned from the 4 quadrants: People v. Task, Active v. Reserved. 

A SECOND good indicator is to look at a person’s prior activities, the jobs they held, what they did in school. Were they out and about, mixing it up with other people? Did they gravitate to inside jobs with no customer contact? In school, were they members of the math club or involved in reading circles, etc? Prior activity choices tell a story that helps us understand where in a workplace a person is most naturally suited. 

LASTLY, another good indicator is to have a person assess their emotional response to their 7 – 10 primary work activities by listing them in 3 buckets: Grind, Neutral and Zone. (“In the” Zone is where they are happy and lose track of time.) Have them place a % number next to each activity indicating the percent of time allotted during an “average” week. 

Total the numbers for each bucket and make sure the sum of the three is100%. If Grind is 50% or more, and Zone is 15% or less, there’s a problem i.e. the job is not a good fit. If Zone is 50% and Grind is 20% or less you have a strong match.  

Use these evaluation tools to help you determine the right seat for most everyone. Certainly there are variations and nuances. For example, a person may not love doing some of the lower level grunt work but still be happy because it’s a career step on the way to higher level passion work. But overall, if you take time to assess a person’s fit, using whatever tools are at your disposal, you’ll get most everyone into the exact Right Seat. 

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