Round Pegs in Round Holes – an Immutable Principle

Examples always help us gain another level of understanding. One of the immutable principles of the organisation I am currently leading is: round pegs in round holes. It is a principle about proper people placement. It is an expression of how the importance of the people in our organisation. People are our greatest asset.

The immutable principles of an organisation or team scaffold the ways in which people work. They are the W.O.W. of an organisation – the ways of working. On a building site scaffolding creates a safer environment for construction workers to operate within. Immutable principles also provide a safer environment for team members to work in. When the scaffolding of immutable principles is in place team members can make relatively autonomous decisions in confidence they will be in line with corporate operating practices. An example of an immutable principle is Round Pegs in Round Holes. We’ll take a closer look at this example later in this post.

Round pegs in round holes © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

Round pegs in round holes
© Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

An example of an immutable principle is Round Pegs in Round Holes.

When tracing a map or drawing you can hold the two drawings up to the light, or place them on a light box, to check to see if you are copying the original accurately. When deciding what action to take in any set of circumstances team members hold their choices up against the immutable principles to see if the chosen action or behaviours align with them. If they don’t align adjustments can be made before it is too late.

Immutable principles are organisational principles which frame organisational behaviour. As such they are a practical articulation of the organisation’s values. In other words, immutable principles articulate what the organisation’s values look like in operation.

Immutable principles are an articulation of the organisation’s values.

Round pegs in round holes is an immutable principle about proper people placement. As the saying goes: proper people placement prevents problems. Like most of our immutable principles, it is an expression of the way we want our organisation to work with the people in it. We want people to be able to work in the place which is best suited to their particular range of skills, abilities and personality, thus, round pegs in round holes. Too often it seems we try to squeeze square shaped people into round holes instead of helping them finding square shaped holes which suit them. In stating round pegs in round holes as an immutable principle we recognise the following practical factors as important:

As the saying goes: proper people placement prevents problems.

Proper people placement prevents problems © .shock | Dreamstime.com

Proper people placement prevents problems
© .shock | Dreamstime.com

In order to place people appropriately (utilise their gifting) I need to know them. In order to know them I have to spend time with them. I have to discover what shape they are.

When you successfully place round pegs in round holes people are most effective in producing results. When people are enjoying what they are doing and feeling they are making a worthwhile and valued contribution they are most productive.

Having people in positions they feel confident in and enjoy creates less stress for everyone. Professional learning opportunities are important to help people develop confidence in their roles.

When people fit their roles well both the organisation and the individual have the best opportunities to experience success. (When people fit their holes really well is another way to put this – round pegs in round holes).

Proper placement will confirm and substantiate people’s perceived gifting. As the skill and ability is confirmed it will also grow.

Happy team members/happy clients.

Confidence in gifting creates opportunities for innovation. When people are no longer worried about whether or not they can actually do the job they are being asked to do they begin to think and innovate more easily.

Being committed to the immutable principle of round pegs in round holes can mean making really tough decisions about people we love and care for. As a leader you do not do anyone good service by not taking action when someone is in the wrong position or lacks the ability to do the job required. Being committed to round pegs in round holes can sometimes mean team members need to leave in order to find their particularly shaped hole somewhere else.

Some of us are allowed to be round! There is no specific formula for what shape is the best shape for a person to be. People come in all shapes and sizes and need correspondingly diversely shaped holes in order to achieve the best outcomes for themselves and the organisation or team.

Change the shape of the hole not the person. Wherever possible leaders should try to change the shape of the hole and not the person. I find I need to be careful I don’t get so fixated on a job needing to be done in a certain way that I fail to recognise that a different shaped approach can work just as well – often better. Round pegs in round holes sometimes means making the hole round more than it does finding a round person.

If there is no appropriately shaped hole – no position. Sometimes, no matter what you do, there just isn’t a hole shaped for a particular person.shapes and holes

This is the Fourth Question at work. What is my motivation?

Round pegs in round holes is an example of an immutable principle. In my organisation we believe in people first. Putting people first is an important organisational value for us. We believe that when we are committed to helping others be the very best they can be we will inevitably experience high levels of success as a by-product. This is the Fourth Question at work. What is my motivation? When we discuss a problem, something that didn’t go the way we wanted it or expected it to, or make plans for the future we can ask ourselves did we, or do we, have round pegs in round holes. This question puts our value of people first into action in practical ways.

In the next post we will take a look at what happens when immutable principles seem to contradict each other.

Takeaways

The immutable principles of an organisation or team scaffold the ways in which people work. They are the W.O.W. of an organisation – the ways of working.

When the scaffolding of immutable principles is in place team members can make relatively autonomous decisions in confidence they will be in line with corporate operating practices.

Round pegs in round holes is an example of an immutable principle.

Immutable principles articulate what the organisation’s values look like in operation.

If values are the adjectives and nouns of the heart of an organisation, immutable principles are the verbs and adverbs.

Additional Resources

The Johari Window

Five non negotiable elements of a culture

What are your non negotiables?

What are your non negotiables? They play an important part in your contribution.

What’s your organization’s attitude?