Put Your Aces in Their Places

“I have eight members on my team and their tasks are different,” a manager said to me. “As we work in a very challenging environment, I require cross training and job rotation for all.”

“So, you wanted to ensure one hundred percent coverage in case you had an unexpected absence?” I asked.


“I think I am about to hear of a disappointment.”

“I am disappointed. Although everyone is very capable and trained, I am not getting reliable performance from all members on all tasks.”

Of course, it is important to have a back up for each task, but it is not realistic to think all team members can perform all tasks reliably. As the Gallup research revealed, even the most basic tasks require some level of talent for consistent performance.

Rather than encouraging promotion or job rotation schemes, the more effective teams assign members to tasks they perform exceptionally well; and they help them grow in those tasks. It is demoralizing to all to insist that a trained member be responsible for tasks they historically perform poorly.

As some have phrased the concept, the more effective leaders “put their aces in their places.”

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