Should You Fit the Job to the Person, or the Person to the Job?

When I work with a client on organization structure, the question often comes up:  “Should we design the job around the person we have, or design the organization structure and job first and then find the right person to fill the role?
The answer is not always simple, but here are two rules of thumb that can help:

  • Be clear about what results are required from the position, then assess whether the person has what it takes to successfully deliver those results.  Don’t change the results in an attempt to fit a person into the role.

Remember that we all have strengths and weaknesses.  It is the strengths that we are primarily concerned with as long as the weaknesses don’t interfere with overall performance.  Peter Drucker said to manage people for their strengths and make their weaknesses irrelevant.  If you can do that, and the strengths fit the job, then go for it.

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