Performance and Job Fit

Colorful Puzzle Pieces

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:6

Leaders are limited or lifted by the people they lead. Their success and that of the missions they lead depends on the contributions of others. With this in mind, others only contribute well when their work is matched to their talents and their values. I call this match Job Fit. When people are doing the work they have talent for, the work they have been gifted for, for leaders and missions that matter to them, they are invariably satisfied and productive. Christian leaders serve the people and the missions they lead by ensuring everyone has job fit.

Talent is the stuff we are born with. When talent is trained, and accompanied by the right experience, high performance and job satisfaction are natural outcomes. I learned a long time ago that I do not have the talent for math. Trying to make me into an accountant or mathematician would be an exercise in frustration for everyone and it would be a frustrating exercise for me, but I have other talents. The key to lasting success is matching talent and values to work. While this might seem obvious a lot of people are doing work they’ll never do very well or feel very good about.

Talent alone is not enough, we also need the right values. An individual could have lots of the right talent but still be a divisive influence on the team. The apostle Paul was no doubt thinking about this when he advised his protege Titus, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Titus 3:10. Divisive people only damage the team and undermine the mission. Talent AND values are the keys to job fit and lasting success for everyone. So every great team-building leader is in a constant search for job fit with every team member.

Through job fit leaders build high performance teams one individual at a time. As I’ve been known to repeat constantly, “Great leaders surface and resolve the big questions about people and the work they do.” They do not sit by and watch someone struggle without doing something about it. Job fit becomes their reference point.

This is why great leaders make every performance count. They know that performance is always the best indicator of job fit. When performance is strong and the individual enjoys the work, we can be fairly sure of job fit – this is evidence of good casting. When someone is consistently performing poorly, job fit questions arise and it’s time to do something about it. This is when a leader’s observation, feedback, coaching and accountability skills all become essential. When performance improves in response to the leaders intervention, we can dismiss job fit concerns. When it does not, it is time to make a change for the individual and the organization. The most frustrating situations I came across during my newspaper leadership career were those where I knew there were job fit issues that previous leaders had ignored, sometimes for years.

When job fit is the issue, performance and job satisfaction will not improve until the casting issue is resolved. Delaying these changes is not skillful or caring leadership. While you can’t guarantee that everyone who leaves will find the right job the next time, know for certain that they won’t even get the chance to by staying in the wrong one.

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Discussion Questions:

  1. What are you currently doing to build your team’s performance?
  2. Are there any job fit issues that need to be surfaced and resolved?