Monday, 23 September 2013

The Right Man for the Right Job

The other day I was  traveling with our GM(HR) when the subject came up regarding appropriate posting of employees to get the best out of them in the best interests of the organization. I told him that I had written an article on the topic years back for the magazine published by the Mysore chapter of NIPM. He expressed an interest  to see it. So I fished for it among old documents at home and managed to trace it. When I read through the article, I felt that it was as  relevant today as it was when I first wrote it.
Therefore I am sharing the same with readers in this blog without any changes, meaning you may come across the flavor of 2002 here & there -

" Continuous learning,unlearning and relearning has been advocated in a fast changing world.Yesterday's solutions we are told, are no longer valid much so new concepts are emerging by the day to be discarded or replaced by new ones.Thus we have had techniques such as management by objectives ,managing by wandering around, kaizan,empowerment, emotional intelligence  and so on  enjoying patronage at various points of time.But one thing we have all agreed on since the early days of professional management is the need for placing "the right man for the right job"

"Matching the two, the job and the man is the key" is what we were told in 1980 when I passed out. In 2002, it cannot be said differently.Yet experience tells us that that this is a tough ask.There is a gap between text books and the nitty gritty realities of the industry.There are too   many compulsions particularly in a country with a huge population meaning pressure to accommodate those who are less than a perfect match
Even after providing employment,not much effort is made to ascertain & analyse the natural aptitude of the candidate while placing him or her.There are even instances of employees sent  abroad for intensive technical training at a considerable expense to the organization, being posted to unrelated areas on their return from training.These things happen because in our country many of us still believe that what actually matters is the production volumes and that appropriate placements and other such exercises merely distract attention from the core purpose of achieving targets. yet it is only the employees with correct fit who can meet the requirements of the demanding customers of today.In the words of  an  eminent management thinker"Most people in large organizations are so preoccupied with the "urgent matters that there is very little time for the "important"matters That is the reason why that so very little time is spent on deliberate thinking or conceptual thinking."

This article seeks to emphasize that matching the man /woman with the job is one such 'important'matter that demands deliberate thinking and action.Carol Coleman in her book "Late bloomers"writes that "in an ideal world we would all be free to choose careers that we find exciting & interesting.We would not be pushed in to jobs on the basis of sex stereotyping,economic need or any consideration apart from desire & aptitude." Often times in our real world however many considerations other than desire and aptitude influence our decision while  choosing our own calling and the posting we give to those working with us.With a little more care and deliberation we can more optimally utilize our human resources.
Every human being has his strength areas in which he can naturally excel.If the person is provided an encouraging environment in which his natural instincts and abilities can blossom,excellence is assured.However signals given to a young person starting on a career is to choose a profession that is very lucrative or held in high esteem in terms of status rather than one's natural aptitude.

Now let us look at the situation after an engineer has secured employment.In a government department, he   is given designations of junior engineer,senior engineer, superintending engineer etc .All the while he is reminded of the fact that he is an engineer. In an industry,however the engineer is designated as junior manager, assistant manager,manager and so on .He is constantly reminded that whatever might be  his core calling;his contribution would be measured against managerial competencies. Little wonder then that after the initial anxiety and  interest to understand the basic technical process of the industry,the focus of the engineer shifts to planning,organizing,directing & controlling.

If the employee has the full freedom to devote his time & energy to what he has the natural aptitude and training, without the fear that his future prospects in terms of status or monetary benefits would be adversely affected,best results can be assured.In the instant case an engineer can concentrate on continuous improvement of technical processes,quality issues,avoiding rejections etc without being burdened with the problems of man management. Another person having a natural flair and training for administration can take care of the planning,organizing,directing & controlling activities. Both can work shoulder to shoulder solving the problems of the shop floor together without feeling threatened by the other,their roles being clear cut.They feel safe with  the knowledge that at a particular level in the organizational hierarchy both enjoy the same facilities whether monetary, or other office privileges like person transport.

By insisting on the engineer playing the role of an administrator, the damage can be twofold.The time that can be utilized for becoming a more effective employee technically is lost. Secondly the work team may be saddled with a manager who is not only ineffective but goes through the motions of his role with dread and discomfort. Of course all rounders as in a one day cricket team are undoubtedly great assets. But it would be fatal to the Indian team to declare that a specialist bowler like Srinath or Harbhajan will have no role in the team because they are not equally adept at batting. It would be equally absurd to suggest that Brian Lara does not have a place in the side for want of bowling prowess.

While summarizing, it is to be reiterated that the 'right man for the right job' is a valid mantra that cannot go out of fashion.It needs our due attention. While people who have natural flair and competency in diverse skill sets can be encouraged to move to roles of their choice, it need not and should not be a norm especially if the shift is not what comes naturally to the individual.According to Jane Roberts,social scientist "Nature and your own nature works best when left all alone. You will find that you excel in those areas that you let yourself alone and do what comes naturally because you are inclined in that direction." What we need to do is to work as a team in harmony while each one is doing what comes naturally to him/her.It is better to be a first rate carpenter than a third rate doctor,engineer or HR person. It is better to be a wonderful 'you'than a lesser 'some one else.'In other words,for best results you need the"Right people in the right jobs"


  1. I agree with you. Right man for the right job@ right time shall be Mantra. If the person is hvg passion we may try for job rotation.

  2. Thanks Guru for penning your thoughts.Professor Bhaskaran who retired from IIT Kharagpur after a distinguished service & presently still associated as consultant to the new IITs such as Gandhinagar wrote to me directly by Email.his feedback on this post. With his permission I am reproducing it here for the benefit of readers:-

    From: Ravikumar Bhaskaran
    Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 3:25 PM
    To: Rajeev M N
    Subject: Re: Blog on HR

    Thanks Mr.Rajeev. I am in total agreement with what you have stated that "Every human being has his strength areas in which he can naturally excel.If the person is provided an encouraging environment in which his natural instincts and abilities can blossom,excellence is assured.However signals given to a young person starting on a career is to choose a profession that is very lucrative or held in high esteem in terms of status rather than one's natural aptitude."

    Indeed in recent times I am persuading institutions they should rename their Placement Offices as Career Development Centers or Career Development and Placement Center, giving a greater emphasis on career development than placement. A lot of mediocrity that we see today is because the fact that the right person is not in the right job or rather because there is no effort what so ever to ensure that the aptitude of the person is also considered in posting the person in a certain job.


    Dear Sir
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts so promptly. In fact they are very valuable given the fact that it comes from one with a vast experience not only as a faculty but as placement officer (Career development officer) who can authoritatively provide information on how young people choose their careers. It would have been great if you had commented in the blog itself so that many more people would have read & benefited. With your permission I can still upload these inputs on the blog.

    Am a bit busy. Go ahead and upload the present comment as it is. Hereafter shall comment on the blogs myself.

  3. Hi Rajeev
    Right man for the right job -- this subject is of intense relevance today. You have touched the right chord. When the industry is filled with a huge population of engineers - how do we differentiate each other .. By trade/by skill/ by knowledge/by application/by innovation? Certainly all this and more. But then who bells the cat? the HR Manager, of course. This is a huge challenge to any HR practitioner. To assess the individual skills against job needs. But how good are our HR managers...With no malice attached it is pathetic to know most HR managers are oblivious of goes on in the shopfloors or even the workstations...they are busy filling up the appraisal forms or sanctioning compensation claims.
    There is an imperative need for them to move to centrestage and identify individuals who have a fancy and flair for delivering certain jobs. We need to fit such people with exacting function. HRDians could make a big difference ot societyand industry as well. But HRD ians need to develop this as a trait. To sift people and gauge them sans bias.
    Come on HRDians..move ahead and show your mettle as well. You hv come out from some of the best schools in social is time you take notice of how you could improve productivity at workplace and push for innovation. All the best.
    Giridhar Gururajan,

  4. Thanks to giridhar for sharing his views. I am sure it could be food for thought for us HR practitioners to introspect and come out with fresh responses for meeting the needs of our customers.

  5. Everyone is Genius.... But if you ask a fish to climb tree, it will live its life thinking stupid.... (Einstein)

    Same way People and JObs... ;-)

  6. Insightful lines Prakash.Thank you

  7. Proper Skills assessment as per job requirements, has always remain as a big "Challenge" for any HR professional. We need to stand up now and put our shoes into conceptual thinking to lays more emphasis on this "Vital" matter.

    There is a difference between Truck "Driver" and "Pilot" . Both have same function i,e "Driving" , but one is driving truck and another one is driving (flying) AIRCRAFT. You cannot ask or expect truck "Driver" to fly an Aircraft :-) You definitely require specific skills to do this task.

    So in similar fashion "RIGHT" people in "RIGHT" Jobs

  8. To my mind. the success of the HR person lies in his/ her facilitating a Win- Win for both for the demands of the job and for the person performing the role,After all as Jane Roberts points out "Nature and your own nature works best when left all alone. You will find that you excel in those areas that you let yourself alone and do what comes naturally because you are inclined in that direction." Thanks to Ankit for sharing his perspective.

  9. Hi Rajeev, your article is still relevant... and Giridhar has rightly pointed out the significant role of HR folks. It is worth reading...Keep it up!

  10. A big Thanks to Nadeem for the motivating feedback