I started my career as a freelancer on eLance. Within six months, I had canceled my account because I had more work than I could handle. Things progressed faster than I anticipated.
As you can imagine, I found myself stuck in a tiny box. I was doing small projects for little money, always chasing the deadline. I had to start outsourcing work to keep up.
My first hire was a programmer. Then I moved on to a CSS coder, video editor and project coordinator. I slowly outsourced all the parts of the job I didn’t know how to do or didn’t like.
Eventually, we became a team of ten. But we were still in that small box.
Among other changes, one important key to growing our business was getting more productive. That meant I needed to make sure I had the right people on board, doing the right jobs.
Creating a matrix can help you make sure you have the right people in the right jobs.
Creating Your Matrix
A matrix is simply a system of rows and columns to help you sort information quickly. In this case, your employees, their tasks and their performances.
Start by outlining all of the tasks you need to have done in your company. Tax Accounting, programming, project coordination, design, coding, contacting clients…everything your company is currently doing or needs to do to operate.
Then, write down the names of the everyone on your team and their assigned tasks. Talk to them to begin analyzing each person in relation to the tasks they’ve been assigned. Ask how they’re feeling about their job. Do they love it? Are they good at it? (It’s possible to love doing a particular task but not be good at it. I’m good at accounting, but I hate it.)
Put people into these categories:
- They love it and they’re good at it/not good at it
- They love it/hate it and they’re okay at it
- They hate it and they’re good at/not good at it
When we did this, we found some people were just okay at the certain tasks they were assigned. That’s a real eye opener when you’re running a business. It tells you that you need to move people around or get someone new for the position.
I want people to love what they’re doing. The matrix helps determine that you have the right people in the right seats. It’s okay if someone has a task they don’t necessarily like, but if most of what they’re doing falls into the category of just being okay or not good at all, it lets you know where people need to improve and how to delegate certain tasks.
Right People, Right Seats
Because most of my team is located around the world, we’ve had to become more productive. Getting people in the right seats was instrumental to this.
We now hold weekly meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page. We do this for two reasons:
- Strengthens our team (since we’re so spread out)
- We get to engage with each other to communicate our needs
Getting the right people in the right seats is about providing resources to the people who need them most. When we meet regularly, we get to identify our struggles and assign resources to those places.
Getting the right people in the right seats helps everyone play to their strengths, allowing us to solve issues before they become problems.
Data-Driven, People-Focused Decisions
Most people who outsource work stress about finding a stranger they can trust. Creating the matrix can help build that trust faster. It allows you to give information based on data, instead of gut feelings
We share each employee’s matrix with them in a personal conversation asking what they’re good at and whether they love doing it or not.
In some cases, they’re good at everything and they love everything. It’s a red flag when it shows up that they’re just okay at most of their duties and they hate them.
Identifying tasks and strengths in this way also allows them to take on more when they see there’s a need. Duties are clearly outlined, so they know where they can step in.
For the most part, everyone is well engaged because they love what they do. Most people on my team have about five areas of work they do. Anything outside of four or five have to be considered.
This process can also lead to some hard decisions. People need to be treated right. The matrix removes the emotion from your decisions and creates fairness for everyone.
Honestly, the matrix is more for me than others. It allows me to take work off someone’s plate if it’s not an area of strength for them.
It also allows me to do more efficient, focused work evaluations. When red flags show up, I can say, “Here are the conditions for improvement. In order to stay, you need to check these boxes.”
This is a good moment to see if they react or not. It doesn’t mean it’s something we can’t fix, but it gives us a clear insight into which areas need to be improved.
At the end of the day, I want everyone to be the best they can be. I want them to be excited about their work, proud to do the work and better today than they were yesterday.
The matrix helps me manage our team, but ultimately it’s about developing positive relationships, no matter the outcome. Things will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to make them the best they can be.
Do you have a system for getting the right people in the right seats? How do you manage working with others? Leave a comment.