Tailoring the Position to the Person

Once I had a job as a project manager. I was terrible at it and eventually was fired. The job was designed for someone with alot of process in mind. This is clearly not me. Remember my personality results?


For a project manager, you want high EXAMINE. Obviously, mine is not suited for that job. Another job I failed at was Systems Administrator, also a high EXAMINE type job.

Once I became an interaction designer, my skills and personality started to shine. And of course, my skills in a startup environment were much more effective than in Intuit’s corporate world. The lesson here is that people are complex and don’t just fall into “good” and “bad” job grades. Every person has a perfect position for them. The key is to understand what their personality and skills are and then tailor the position to them.

It’s like football. A great coach changes tactics based on the players on the team, not the players the coach wishes he had. A great manager tweaks the position based on the person employed, not the person they wish were employed. A great manager changes the org structure based on the people.

Now one might ask, “But Glen, shouldn’t you just fire the person and get someone who is a closer match to the ideal?” Good question, but the answer is “probably not”.  The reason is simple. It’s really hard to find ideal people, almost impossible. Maybe you get lucky once or twice, but usually people have flaws. Unless you want a revolving door in every position, you need to be flexible. If you are rigid, you will be setting people up for failure. It doesn’t do them any good and it certainly doesn’t help the company.

This might seem like counter-intuitive advice, but why should this advice be any different? My brand is counter-intuitive, just get used to it.

As I have hired UX Designers over the years, I have given them different types of roles and different structures of support. Some people are great alone and others require teammates to succeed. Some people are multipliers of others efforts, but don’t achieve that much themselves. Some people need a mission with no details and others need a detailed checklist.

Don’t fall into the rigidity trap. You will consistently be disappointed. Tailor the positions to the people and you will unleash massive potential.

Whatya think?