We believe there are three primary factors driving a person’s growth and development:

  • Talent
  • Fit
  • Investment

Those three factors come together into an equation is the GIFT Formula. It looks like this (read backward, the first letters of the elements of the formula spell GIFT):

(Talent + Fit) x Investment = Growth

Most people know talent when they see it. We define it formally as natural ability or aptitude – the potential for excellence. In last week’s podcast, we discussed how to find top talent. This week’s podcast focuses on fit.

Fit is a little trickier. Put simply, it’s about context. Fit is the extent to which a person’s talent aligns with his or her context – the expectations, goals, cultural values and other factors that define that person’s role on a team and within an organization.

Talent and Fit together are multipliers for Investment. What this means is that whatever level of investment you’re going to make in people (training is the most common investment), you will get a greater return on that investment when you maximize both Talent and Fit.

Listen in to this week’s podcast as Larry Sternberg, Kimberly Shirk and I discuss:

  • Real-life stories about how ensuring the right fit makes a difference in people’s performance.
  • Job sculpting. What is it, and how does it optimize performance?
  • How does ensuring the right fit diminish the odds of burnout?
  • An experiment you can try on your own to figure out what defines a good fit on your team or in your organization and then use that information to make better future hiring decisions.
  • How to train horses to dive from high platforms … and how matching the right training to the right people helped one retailer achieve $1.7 million higher sales in just three months … and how those two things are related.

On all our podcasts and blog posts, you have an opportunity to talk back to us through comments and emails. We hope to hear from you! Until next time, manage to make a difference every day!

+ Larry Sternberg, J.D. and Kim Turnage, Ph.D.


This post highlights Chapter 19 of Managing to Make a Difference (Wiley), a handbook for hitting the sweet spot of middle management. Click here to see posts on previous chapters. Next up: Emphasize the Why. Connect with Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg on LinkedIn to see their latest updates.

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