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The Right People in the Right Seats

By AICC Staff

March 21, 2022


I cannot recall a time when our industry was presented with the people challenges we presently face. Recent studies provide dismal news on what we can expect long-term, with an onslaught of sobering facts amid an already challenging and fatiguing pandemic. While we can certainly add pre-feeders and down stackers at machine centers, we are still and always will be a business that requires skilled talent in the form of operators, forklift drivers, designers, customer-facing staff—you get the picture.

There will never be a magic bullet for solving this issue, but proactively asking yourself what you can do on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to drive talent development in your business should go a long way in reducing turnover, aligning the right talent, and attracting new talent in a tough time that shows no signs of relief.

It is my opinion that the work Jim Collins did in Good to Great on getting the right people in the right seats is as “great” as it gets. The right person is someone who embodies the core values that define who you are and what you want from the culture of your organization. The right person is like a hand to a glove. If you could replicate this person, they would lead your organization to market dominance. Is that something you could say about every one of your people today? Because, make no mistake, the right person could point out the wrong person in an instant, and the wrong person is like carbon monoxide in a large room—you will not smell it or see it, but it will kill.

The right seat means that they are in the position they will be most successful in. They have the skills, experience, ability, and desire to be great at their job. They clearly understand the role, the responsibilities, and the expectations as clearly defined, and they succeed.

This is where I can sense the “yeah, I get it. That’s not the problem. I cannot even find any people.” Part of the magic is that when you define the core values, the responsibilities, and the expectations for every person and position, you can reward and recognize people more objectively.

You must review and course-correct performance with a quarterly conversation, and not only get more with less but begin to create a more solidified culture based on concrete principles that will have existing employees inviting like-minded prospects to you, regardless of the sign-on incentive. This isn’t easy. It requires work daily by you and your executive team. It must be done, and there are employers in our industry today that work at this with the discipline and energy that it requires to be successful. If it were a lack of customers, I doubt your response would be, “Gee, what will I do? There are no good customers available anymore.” On the contrary, you would dig deep, develop a plan, and execute. This is no different.


Gene Marino

Executive Vice President, Akers Packaging Service Group

Chair, AICC