Finding the #RightSeat

When you see this chair, you know what it is for and who it is for. You know why it is important. I don’t care which Star Trek captain is your favorite (obviously, Chris Pine is my favorite), when you see this chair, you know. Can you say the same for each seat in your company or department? When was the last time you looked to be sure?



I’ve recruited for a wide range of skill levels in my career (CNA, RN, baggage claim, customer service, CEO, engineers, plumbers …) and while there are some differences in the roles, you can pretty much assume they will fall into one of two options:

  • Unskilled and skilled trade positions. Sometimes called Blue Collar. Typically these positions are non-exempt from overtime rules.
  • Professional positions. Sometimes called White Collar. Typically these positions are exempt from overtime rules.

The unskilled and skilled trade positions tend to get the most review as they have a higher level of turnover. When we review these positions, we do look at the make up of the area they are assigned to, look at the metrics we use to determine staffing. This review is typically fairly quick, especially if it’s refill. We need a certain number of people to get the job done. These descriptions tend to be fairly task based, fairly easy to review and understand. Even so, you need to be sure you are reviewing on a regular basis. Does this position still fit the needs? Do you still need that number of seats? Do you need more or less? Can you explain why? Remember “because we’ve always had it” is not an acceptable answer. You should be able to tell anyone why you need 27 seats on your bus. For example, for our custodial staff, we know we need x number of staff per 100 square feet in order to clean to a certain level. Less staff means something won’t get done.

While we may not review the staffing levels each time a position opens, it is good to review at least annually to be sure the metric still meets your needs.

The Professional positions typically have lower turnover so you might not look at them very often. This is an area ripe for review each and every time you have an open position. When these positions, you should take a look at the make up of the company, department and say, “Do we need this position? Could the work be done in a different way? What’s not getting done?” Psst: This is actually a really good exercise to go through during a strategic planning session or when you have some “spare time.” Not that you are looking to get rid of someone, but look at as an ideal situation, clean slate, what would you want for your team.

Another good exercise is a review of your processes, especially as you ask yourself if the work could be done in a different way. Is there waste in your processes? A report that is asked for that isn’t truly needed? This shouldn’t be done in attack mode, but as a curiosity. Sometimes, we get so bogged down in details that we are doing things that don’t really make sense. I’m not going to get into a lean conversation here, but simply going through the process of documenting what you currently do can be eye opening.

If you are looking at a new position, I would recommend the same process. You will need to justify the position to someone (maybe just yourself!) but by going through the review of what kind of seat you want, you can move forward with confidence.

Once you have decided that you do need this position, the real fun begins of ensuring the job description truly describes the job. I am, personally & professionally, not a fan of the 27 page job descriptions that include every little “task to complete the duty.” You do need some details, especially as you use your job description to communicate expectations to your employee. But sometimes, again, we get very bogged down in the details and that ever present catch all phrase “other duties as assigned” becomes unnecessary as you have covered every single other duty possible.

Unfortunately, there is no one way to write a job description – no simple formula to follow. I like to see a succinct, 1 or 2 page long description that helps everyone understand the purpose of this role. Be more like Ernest Hemingway than JK Rowling. In other words: get to the point! (Love JK, but some of those books got a tad wordy.)  In addition to the purpose of the job & the succinct description of duties, you need to be sure your description supports the salary range you select, whether or not it is exempt from OT and includes your minimum qualifications.

Tasks can be relegated to check lists or trainings, especially if you need the job done a certain way. Perhaps you don’t need the tasks spelled out as you just need the employee to do the job. That’s something you need to decide and can be based on role: how much control over how the work gets done does the employee have?

So there you go, step one, easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Next time, we’ll talk about how to start the search for the #RightPerson, but for now, just be happy to have the #RightSeat

2 thoughts on “Finding the #RightSeat

  1. Pingback: Getting the #RightPerson to look at the #RightSeat – My Dailey Journey

  2. Pingback: Right People, Right Seats – My Dailey Journey

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