You're out on
the town with some good friends hoping to have a great
dinner and a memorable evening. There's a diner on the
corner and a great Italian restaurant down the street.
Which one are you going to choose?
The Diner - You May
Want to Stick to the Basics Want a Steak? They've got
it. Want Crab Cakes? They've got it. Want Veal Parmesan?
They've got it.
They've got it
but I'm not sure you'd actually want to eat it. The focus
of a diner is to satisfy everyone by providing every type
of food imaginable. However, quantity and quality are
two very different things. Go ahead, ask the waiter what
he recommends and you'll get a blank stare.
You may be asking
yourself, what does this have to do with employees?
The goal of most managers is to create well-rounded employees.
They try to achieve this by identifying the employee's
weaknesses and trying to fix them. What about their strengths?
They languish and dull due to lack of attention. The result
of this focus, at best, is an employee who can do most
things but is not remarkable at anything. Sound familiar?
When you order from
a diner, you should probably stick to the basics. I'd
do the same with your well-rounded employee.
The Fine Restaurant
- Go Ahead, Try the Escargot The fine restaurant has a
much more limited menu but what they have is incredibly
good. They make the conscious decision to forego many
types of foods to focus their efforts on what they do
treat their employees in much the same way. They help
employees to focus on what they do best, rather than trying
to improve their weaknesses. Employees will rarely become
strong in an area of weakness. The best one can hope for
is that they will rise to become mediocre. However, where
an employee has talent, they can become world-class. In
addition, focusing on those areas where we have true talent
is incredibly motivating.
Imagine a team
of people who are all the best at what they do. Imagine
your competition running scared.
Would you rather
have well-rounded employees or remarkable employees?
How to Allow Employees
to Become Great
methods will not create great employees because they
don't focus on what each employee does best. Here are
four steps to make it happen:
1. Identify your
employees' strengths - This task is not easy. It requires
a much more individualistic approach to management. Here
are the best ways to make it happen: * Observe - The best
way to identify your employees' strengths is to observe
their actions. What types of work are they attracted to?
How do they act in group discussions? What do they like
to do when they're not working? * Use Personality Profiles
- There are several profiling tools available on the market
which can help you to identify people's tendencies, talents
and styles. * Conduct 360 Degree Surveys - This can be
a great way to get feedback from supervisors, peers and
subordinates as to an employee's strengths and tendencies.
* Ask The Employee - Ask your employees what they feel
their strengths are. The danger here is that most people
are not self-aware enough to accurately answer the question.
2. Determine how
to take advantage of those strengths - Once their
strengths are known, you should: * Encourage Improvement
- Additional training and experience can turn strengths
into incredible talents. Michael Jordan wasn't born great;
he practiced. * Refine Roles - Find ways to allow your
employees to spend a greater portion of their time on
tasks that lend themselves to their strengths.
3. Figure out
how to manage around the weaknesses - Focusing on
what employees do best doesn't mean forgetting about their
weaknesses. Here are three strategies to deal with weaknesses:
* Shift roles - If possible, change the employee's responsibilities
to shift focus away from their weaknesses. * Partner -
Find an employee whose strengths offset another employee's
weaknesses and team them together. * Training - Training
will probably not turn a weakness into a strength; but
it can get their performance up to more acceptable levels.
4. Build a team
of people who compliment each others strengths - Traditional
teams are made up of many interchangeable parts. This
new, remarkable team is more like a jigsaw puzzle of talents.
Place the right people in the right roles and change any
job descriptions and performance measures that no longer
Back to the original
question...Would you choose the diner or the fine restaurant?
It's nice to have a few diners around for when you want
something cheap or don't know what you want to eat. But,
if you want something truly remarkable and memorable,
hit Zagats and find a great restaurant.