Focused on "fixing" your employees?
Whether it's due to human nature or ineffective practices, managers typically spend the majority of their time helping employees to overcome weaknesses: identifying areas of improvement; closing skills gaps; and addressing performance shortcomings.
"Fixing" employees may seem like the logical thing to do, but it's not the smartest approach. Why? Instead of creating an exceptional team, striving to eliminate weakness results in a well-rounded, yet mediocre, group of employees who may never have opportunities to use their natural abilities.
Where's the sense in that?
If you focus on addressing employees' shortcomings, you're missing what's right in front of your eyes: amazing, untapped potential. So shift your focus to where it's most valuable to your organization, and use these tips to identify and capitalize on your employees' strengths:
Pinpoint talent and natural abilities. Consider the following questions:
- Under what circumstances and in what situations does the employee perform exceptionally well?
- What types of work activities do they enjoy the most? What creates the greatest fulfillment and pride for them on the job?
- What kinds of skills and knowledge does the employee seem to acquire easily?
- What strengths do they have that their current role does not allow them to use?
Weigh options. Get creative about identifying opportunities for leveraging the employee's talents and abilities:
- Is there a role within your organization into which your employee would naturally "fit" better?
- For which other employees would this individual be a good partner (i.e., by offering complementary strengths)?
- Could a portion of your employees' responsibilities be switched with someone else, to their mutual advantage?
- If your employee is already using their talents, where else could they be applied?
- How could they grow their talents on the job? (Consider the advantages mentors, cross-training, "stretch" assignments or inter-departmental projects may offer.)
Focus your attention where it belongs. Instead of trying to "fix" weaknesses, align employee strengths with their work roles. Be willing to reorganize teams, shuffle work responsibilities or otherwise flex your operations so that each employee spends the majority of their time doing work they're naturally good at.
Shifting your focus to developing employees' strengths is good for everyone:
- Job satisfaction will increase. Your employees will be naturally motivated to achieve more in areas where they excel.
- Performance and retention will improve. When your employees enjoy their jobs, they'll work harder and stay longer.