Business Strategy and PlanningCorporate Culture

CEO Shares His Secret to Managing Team Effectively

Building a strong team requires more than just training. Even if everyone has great skills, they can still struggle. One big reason for this is not feeling appreciated. Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack, has a simple way to manage teams better. He uses something called the Skill-Will Matrix, which sorts team members into four categories based on their skills and motivation. Learning how to manage your team well can make your organization more productive and improve how everyone works together. Meyer, inspired by Theo Epstein, believes that understanding both the skills and motivation of your team members is key. When people feel valued and recognized, they work better as a team.

Quadrant 1: Can and will

People with this criteria might be seen as easy for leaders to manage because they are highly skilled and motivated and only need minimal supervision. However, these people also need to be taken care of, just like the others. He said, “Too often we ignore those people.”

What they need:

  • Recognition and opportunities for growth are needed to continue excelling.
  • Autonomy to leverage their skills and motivation effectively.

Quadrant 2: Cannot and will

Taking prompt and clear action are needed for those who are willing to

“The wick on my candle is pretty long for someone who will,” Danny Meyer said. This shows that he prefers people who are more willing than those who aren’t. It is because these people are willing to do it once you teach them and it will last pretty much longer than those who do not.

What they need:

  • Training programs to enhance their skills.
  • Mentorship and guidance to channel their motivation effectively.

Quadrant 3: Can and would not do it

These individuals have the skills to do the work, but they are lacking motivation. This could be from the work environment or other underlying issues such as work-life balance concerns, personal problems or feelings of undervaluation. Hence, leaders should make an effort to identify the reasons behind an employee’s lack of motivation. While this may require significant effort, it is essential to determine whether the individual is deemed important and valuable to the team. Leaders should then consider if the employee is replaceable or not and weigh the benefits of retaining and motivating them against the challenges of finding and training a replacement.

What they need:

  • Motivational strategies to re-engage them.
  • Clear goals and incentives will reignite their passion for work.

Quadrant 4: Cannot and would not do it

This type of individual may require a huge amount of effort and time to develop compared to other quadrants. These employees not only lack the necessary skills to perform their tasks but also show little to no motivation to improve or contribute effectively. Addressing issues with such individuals can be particularly challenging, as it involves both skill development and motivational strategies. Leaders need to assess whether the investment in training and motivating these employees is justified, considering the overall impact on team performance and resources.

What they need:

  • Basic training is needed to develop essential skills.
  • Performance management or redirection towards roles better suited to their abilities.

Which one should leaders spend more effort on?

Leaders should put more time and effort into the people who are willing to do the tasks, instead of those who are not willing to do so. Hence, this refers to the ‘Cannot and will’ and ‘Can and will’ categories. By focusing on those who are willing to cooperate in work tasks, the leaders and the team can achieve goals more quickly and efficiently, rather than relying on those who are not as willing.


Danny Meyer’s Skill-Will Matrix offers a simple yet powerful framework for managing teams effectively. By categorizing team members based on their skills and motivation, leaders can tailor their approach to meet each individual’s needs. Leaders should prioritize their efforts strategically, focusing on those who are most motivated while not neglecting those who may lack motivation but still have potential. It’s recommended to spend more time and effort on team members who show willingness, but those who are less willing also deserve attention and can improve with the right support. As a team leader, it’s essential to balance these priorities to build a cohesive and high-performing team.

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