In Good To Great, Jim Collins says that “if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to manage and motivate people largely goes away”. Most organizations have people in the wrong seats on the bus.

You can probably identify people in your organization who are in the wrong seat, and in some cases even on the wrong bus. Have ever though about the price that your organization may be paying for this mismatch?

There are three types of costs associated with poor job fit—human costs, financial costs, and business opportunity costs.

Human costs include such things as stress, frustration, and unproductive conflict. These lead directly to higher absenteeism and can increase health-related concerns that can directly impact a company’s profitability. People who are not suited for a job tend to be negative about everything, including the company and their boss. Low scores on employee satisfaction surveys may be the result of poor job fit, and not have anything to do with management practices.  In an attempt to improve scores, management may be spending unnecessary time and resources focusing on the wrong things

When people are in a job that does not match their natural behavioral style, they will adapt in order to survive. Significant adaptation causes stress over the long run. For instance, if someone who tends to be passive and avoids conflict is put into a highly competitive environment , it will create significant internal stress that will ultimately impact job performance.

When people are put into jobs that do not match their talents, style, and values, they will not be as productive. There is a direct financial impact caused by the lower productivity. Likewise, poor job fit will increase absenteeism and turnover. The out of pocket cost of replacing a salaried professional employee is somewhere between two and three times the annual salary according to most experts. These costs include not only the recruiting and hiring costs, but also the lost productivity as a new person is brought up to speed.

  Ultimately, the success of any business will be limited by the capability of the people in the business. Having the wrong people in jobs will ultimately impact the businesses’ ability to grow and achieve it’s strategic goals. As Jim Collins goes on to say, “great vision without great people is irrelevant”. In football, a great strategy and game plan can only take a team so far. Ultimately, it comes down to having the right talent to execute the plan.

It is impractical to think that a business can simply start over and replace an entire team to optimize job fit. The place to start is new hires and filling positions internally. A system should be in place to ensure that each placement decision is made with job fit as a primary consideration. It is also possible to realign people within an organization to better match people to jobs. For example, I worked with a sales manager to match his sales force to market areas. The result was a thirty percent increase in sales in two months. We looked at the characteristics of the customers in each segment and matched the sales people based on these characteristics. In another company, we were able to  shift tasks among people in a department to increase productivity and job satisfaction.