It’s the individual’s responsibility to maximise their strengths whilst it’s the manager’s responsibility to minimise their weaknesses by providing support structures to complete them.
There is a tendency amongst many managers to focus on weaknesses of employees and constantly work to improve them.
We believe addressing weaknesses is an individual pursuit and should not be a major focus of management. Of course, this must be taken in context and on what the weaknesses are.
We have a term called baseline weakness. In other words if the person who spends a lot of time on the phone has a weakness with basic language skills this falls below baseline and won’t work.
But assuming a person is above the baseline weakness, it is far better for managers to focus on their strengths.
Most people don’t know what their weaknesses are, let alone their strengths. A good manager must work to identify them. Once this is done all efforts must be used to maximise their strengths and put them in positions of strength.
A sales person who is terrible at administration but great with customers and prospects must not be forced to be better at administration, rather put her/him in front of the customers and have someone else backfill their administrative duties.
Then, together we can work on improving and maximising their strengths.
There will be far greater success for all involved in an organisation if our focus is on identifying and maximising the strength of our people and putting them in positions and roles that best use these strengths.
Using this management principle even in sport, works!
As long as a player can play to the team’s expected level of defence, say in basketball, then the team is best served exploiting his strengths. If he is a great three-point shooter don’t have him over dribble the ball or post up, give it to him on the perimeter and have him shoot.
The employee will enjoy, improve, perform and flourish to her/his greatest ability when you focus on what they are good at…as long as you can cope with their weaknesses or have someone else compensate for them.