Coaches Corner: Make Weakness Irrelevant

by Bill Swift on December 1, 2014

in Employee Engagement,Leadership,Strengths

Superman vs A Clever Child with Kryptonite by Wesley

We all have them. Weaknesses, that is. Things we just are not good at. Skillful managers put themselves and their employees in positions that maximize our strength zone so that these weaknesses become irrelevant—they just don’t matter anymore. Most of us have an inclination to try to train and coach weakness out of each other, putting most of our valuable time and energy focusing on what is wrong or needs to be fixed. We seem to be hard-wired this way. But this “focus-on-weakness” approach produces far less return than a full investment in and exploration of what we are good at.

But wait, how do you recognize these strengths? Sometimes we have to look a bit closer at behavior, those things that we talk about and do with confidence. Strengths are the things we have had consistent success doing, the things we look forward to and learn quickly. The stuff that just comes naturally. The stuff that charges our personal batteries. It takes some serious attention-paying to notice this zone in ourselves and others.

A two- step process is best:

  1. Find your own strengths. Claim them, name them and aim them. Some take a Meyers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, DISC or other assessment. Although this can be helpful, it is by no means necessary. Talk to people you trust about the things they see in you that are you at your best.
  2. Pay close attention to others’ strengths. Catch people being good, being effective, showing unconscious competence. Watch for indicators that their personal battery is being charged.$.cfm

A manager’s story:

Some years ago I was running a call center and was preparing to have a disciplinary discussion with an employee whose absenteeism and productivity had deteriorated. Being a properly-trained manager, I had my documentation ready. Mustering up all of my “crucial confrontation” energies I set a meeting with the employee. The discussion turned, to my surprise, to what the employee would rather be doing, managing training schedules and materials. I was this close (picture fingers close together) to terminating the employee but, with some encouragement from other leaders, became willing to give the employee a chance in another role. (Note that we had the flexibility to try this). SHE BLOSSOMED, became a star in a different role, anticipating customer and staff needs in ways I would never have expected.

Hey, it doesn’t always play out this way. I have seen a lot that do.

We’d love to hear more stories of how you are getting an improved return on investment by focusing on strengths:

Happy Strengthfinding!

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