Everyone likes to win, and most don’t enjoy failing. This becomes magnified in one’s professional life. People don’t show up to work each day and tell themselves, “I can’t wait to fail today.” Their struggle to find success may very likely be a consequence of working in a role that doesn’t fit their skillsets. I recently read a news publication claiming 72% of employed people are unhappy with their jobs. WOW! 72 out of 100 people are working in jobs they dislike. Why?

What is the value of a high-performing employee in a role vs. an underperformer? It’s well documented that every employee turnover costs a minimum of 40% of annual compensation of the role. Win by design. Be proactive, become the architect that designs the system to ensure your team doesn’t fall into the 72% of discontent employees roaming your hallways.

We can witness firsthand the difference of someone working “in” a role vs. someone “winning” in a role. The high performers are genuinely happier, better teammates and provide much better customer experiences.

During my 25+ years as a Vistage member, I gained exposure to 100’s of world class speakers, leaders and gurus. Tom Foster was one of those impactful speakers. I like giving credit where credit is due (www.https://fosterlearning.org/). I have told Tom his teaching had such a positive impact on my leadership which I am forever grateful and thankful.

I took some key points from Tom’s teaching and tried to narrow them down into smaller bites. I like simple, digestible strategies that I can implement across the organization.

Here is my outline:

• Define each role inside the organization.

• Define the necessary (top two to three) skillsets required for success in the role.

• Recruit, interview and hire those SKILLS for the role (vs. a person).

• Stack the deck by hiring someone with the specific skills to be successful.

I applied this formula in my organization with a high degree of success. For many years, my organization was voted Atlanta’s Top 20 Best Workplaces. I’m confident that is a direct result of the focus and attention we placed on putting people in roles that they had the skills to perform at a high level. 

Define the role: What are the top two to three skills required to do this role well? Yes, we often desire an employee to have eight to 10 positive attributes we are seeking. Often companies will provide two pages of “desirables” for a new hire. The challenge; we create confusion for the hiring team. We tell them go find someone that fits this two-page description. Go find the perfect white unicorn. Of the two pages of desirable attributes, which items are the most important?

We focused on the top two to three skills required for the role and that is where we focused our attention. The best way to illustrate this concept is through an actual example. Let’s look at the template or measure technician role. What is the most important deliverable we need from the role? #1 without question -- the template has to be right. No mistakes. What skillsets would someone need to possess to make a perfect template every time?

• Detail oriented

• Ability to follow process

• Anticipate potential problems

Then all the recruiting and interviewing focus was tailored around finding someone that has demonstrated they have these three skills. The best predicter of future success is past experience. They need to show you and prove to you they possess these skills. Great interviewers will get skilled at asking for specific examples that provide tangible evidence. If someone can’t provide me specific details that support the claim and just give me broad opinions and beliefs, I’m not buying. 

Too many times in the recruiting and interviewing process we get “fooled” by the person. I really like them because they are (polite, nice, attractive, articulate, etc.). Yes, but do they have the top skills to be successful in the role?

Most of the time someone struggles in a role because they were never qualified to be great in the role on the front end. Whose is accountable for that mismatch?

Invest the time to get this right. It is well worth it and the cost savings in the long run will certainly justify the time.



E. Tryon