Too often, especially in ministry and non-profit organizations we are lazy in ensuring that people are in their lane of gifting and wiring in terms of their job responsibilities. The end result is a significant loss of energy, joy, effectiveness and return on mission. Often the individuals at issue are bright and competent but we have placed them in a position where their brightness cannot be utilized and their competence is equally lost. We are only competent in the lane we were made for.

I believe this happens for three reasons. First, we don't take the time to really understand our staff: Their wiring, effectiveness or lane. Rather we take good people and slot them into a role that we need (in our minds) to fill. We put them in our lane, not in their lane. The result, ironically is that we don't get what we could get if they were positioned properly, and they live with responsibilities that don't bring them joy.

Second, we don't engage in honest dialogue with our staff to understand where they are and where they want to be. One of the basic jobs of supervisors is to understand people's wiring and gifting and ensure that they are in the lane where they will be most effective. This takes extended dialogue and trust but in my experience, leaders are not willing to give this kind of attention to their staff and everyone loses. In many cases, bright people don't even stay with the organization because of their ongoing frustration. Such conversations take time and honest dialogue and that is an investment that many leaders are not going to make.

Third, we have forgotten that in any organization the most important decision we make is getting the right people on the bus - in Jim Collin's words. This comes before we slot them into a specific task, or define their actual job description. In hiring, the order of sequence is "right people" and then "right seat." We often reverse that order and pay the consequences.

Ironically, when a bright individual is not in their correct lane, those around them often either know or sense this to be the case. The fact that they see it and their leaders do not is a function of the second issue above. We may have to change the org chart or reposition others when we need to position individuals properly. Better that if you have a highly competent individual rather than ignoring the issue and losing either the person or the competence that they could be bringing to the organization.

In my experience, it is the highly entrepreneurial and innovative organizations or ministries that get this issue right. They are flexible and nimble and able to revise the org chart in order to take advantage of the skills of key people. Of course, these are the organizations that great people gravitate to and which will make the greatest difference in their mission. Bright people will take a chance on highly entrepreneurial organizations because they see the will to get things done and the flexibility to find and retain good people by getting them in their lane. 

Don't underestimate the power of getting good people in their lane. It is where they will make the greatest difference for your organization. And if you wonder whether someone is in their lane, all you need to do is initiate a conversation.

  • Jun 12, 2021
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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