I once learned a tool to help you determine who you should try to keep in an organization and who to let go. The tool is useful in selection processes and in all kinds of other situations. How does it work?

Take employees, for example. As an employer, first determine what you consider the two most important qualities or attributes for your employees. Think (for example in accountancy) about productivity and ability to develop or (in a store) about service orientation and accuracy. Then you determine for each employee whether they score high or low on these qualities. You write that down in a matrix. In the example of the accountant, the horizontal axis indicates the productivity (low or high) and the vertical axis the developability. You then get four boxes. You guessed it. Whoever scores low on both productivity and developability (“bottom left”) can be missed.

The same applies in the store for a low score for both service orientation and accuracy. After all, that person doesn’t perform anything and is also inaccurate. People who score high in the accounting firm on both productivity and developability (“top right”) are the stars in the firmament. So you need to pay a lot of attention to those. The same goes for the active and service-oriented salespeople in a store. Those are your stars there. And what to do with people who score mixed, so for example high on productivity but low on developability?

In an accounting firm and a store you certainly need people who fall into this group. You then have to find work for them that they can do well and enjoy and then they will do fine (in that position). They will not become a group leader. And the fourth group, the people who score low on productivity but high on developability? Indeed, they need to be trained and developed. Now these are relatively random examples of characteristics, but of course you can fill in anything you want. Obviously, you can also use the tool as an employee to score employers.

I find this tool interesting because it gives a lot of insight very quickly. The punch line, of course, is that it is crucial which characteristics and qualities you find important for the development and growth of your organization and your people. So how the leadership makes these choices says a lot about the direction and culture of the organization. What do you consider important behaviors for your employees and colleagues?

It can’t hurt to apply this tool to directors themselves and their supervisory directors. What do you think is important for a director?

A number of qualities and characteristics speak for themselves in the case of a director, such as management qualities, authority, knowledge of the sector and perseverance. If he or she lacks these qualities, it is better not to start. These qualities however do not distinguish the director you want in your organization from any other director.

If you find it important that your directors are visionary and can bring the company to a better future, then that is an important distinguishing feature. The tool can also be useful to apply a mirror image to directors: formulate in advance what you absolutely do not want, for example, personal income-minded and egocentric. In that case you probably want your candidate to score low on both characteristics. The same applies to supervisory directors. List what supervisory directors are all about, for example, helicopter view, integrity, role stability and independence. Pick just two and design the most suitable matrix for your own board and for the individual supervisory directors on it. Give each supervisory director a place in the matrix.

Hopefully not too many will end up at the bottom left!

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