What to Do When the Right People Are in the Wrong Job

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If you're a Project Manager who isn't using their resources (i.e., your staff) well, you're not alone. 

From a Manager's Perspective

What manager hasn't struggled with the problem of not having enough people to get the job done? Like others in your position, you might shuffle people, juggle tasks and priorities, and plead for more resources. You might even cross-train, contract specialists, and work far too much overtime yourself. You know the toll it's taking on you, but what about the toll on the people you supervise, and more importantly, how do you solve the problem?

Consider Your People

The key people on your team want to stay busy, engaged and feel needed but if they burn out they'll begin to resent the demands placed upon them. Conversely, others team members might be bored because they're being underutilized or, perhaps, they're unhappy they're being cross-trained to help in areas they're not skilled in or lack interest in.

Some people are in the wrong job because they chose it for the attributes. For example, a doctor might be a surgeon for the prestige but have no interest in people. Some are stuck in a job they don't like because they lack the skills needed to get a new job or they lack the initiative to job hunt.

Others may be in the wrong job because of pressure to stay in the family business or because a certain career is expected of them. Others start a work history based on the first job they can get and just stay in that industry. In the end, it's surprising how much time is being lost because people are placed in jobs they aren't suited for or excited about.

Steps You Can Take

People do best when they enjoy the work they do. You, as a manager, have some control over the situation simply by how you manage. When you give a person the latitude to decide how to do their job, (instead of micro-managing every detail of every task) they'll do things in a way that's most enjoyable for their personality. The result is a more productive, satisfied employee. You'll also have more time to manage the 'big picture' and will make yourself more promotable. 

More importantly, be sensitive to the skills and interests of employees when you assign tasks and try to match people up with the jobs that best suit them. Put the dreamer in charge of creative tasks and the detail-oriented individual on more structured tasks. Just think how much more would get done if people only did jobs for which they had a talent and a passion.

Determining the Best Fit

There are a lot of companies that will either sell you the tools to do employee screening and testing or do the work for you, for a fee. Most of this is aimed at pre-employment screening to make sure you get the best employees. Firms like EmployeeScreenIQ will check out a prospective employee for you by checking for criminal record, verifying educational qualifications, and employment history, etc. While that is important, after an employee is hired you have to make sure you put people in the right position.

Carl Jung, noted Swiss psychologist and the founder of the Jungian approach to psychotherapy, created the concept of personality typology. Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine C. Briggs created a refinement called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Many companies, like The Brain Type Institute, will conduct MBTI personality inventories both for you and your staff and classify an individual into one of 16 types.

Dr. David Keirsey developed the concept into the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. His self-administered online test lets you answer 72 questions that determine your temperament and variant. His descriptions of the 16 types and subtypes will help you better understand, and place, your people.