Their abilities and eccentricities may make up for their weaknesses
By ASHVAANI RAMANATHAN
1. Are jobs in your organisation structured to fully take advantage of the wide range of talents available?
2. If you were asked to take a 15% pay cut, would you still want to keep your current job?
3. Are managers in your organisation aware of the variety of talents within their team, and are able to delegate assignments accordingly?
4. On a normal day, do you find at least 60% of the work you do interesting?
5. Is your organisation’s culture flexible enough to support and enhance individual differences in capabilities?
If you have answered a resounding “No” for three out of the five questions above, then this article is definitely for you.
Jack Welch once said that “talent management deserves as much focus as financial capital management in corporations”. How true this has turned out to be in today’s economic conundrum.
Imagine this scenario.
There are two individuals within your team, both of whom are marketing executives with the same job function as one another.
While person A outdoes in producing quality research and insightful presentations, they visibly struggle when you put them on the spot during meetings and are unable to take over for any presentation engagements you may need them for.
Person B on the other hand, excels in people engagement, loves the limelight and can pull off public speaking with nothing short of ease and success.
Person B however, is unable to deliver on the research and content that you equally need them for.
This scenario reflects the frequent dilemma that present-day businesses face in managing the unique talents within their teams.
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The most disengaging action that you can undertake as a manager would be to reprimand persons A and B for not being able to fully meet your expectations.
Alternatively, many managers may naturally empathise and unknowingly favour the characteristics of the individuals that relate close to their own behaviour and actions.
A third alternative would be for managers to provide training for both team members to develop the skills that they are lacking.
While this outpouring of continuous improvement trainings and workshops may very well work for the short run, they will not necessarily produce the energy and quality of output that the manager hopes for.
The job may be completed but at the expense of cashing out from the emotional reserves of the employee.
The challenge lies in managers failing to treat their team members as individuals first, and employees second.
As the number of millennials entering the workplace continues to increase, employees desire a professional platform that recognises them as unique contributors to the workplace and want to be empowered to do deliver their best work.
This might interest you: Understanding How Millennials Are Changing The World Of Work
Take for instance the global research conducted by Gallup on organisations that have adopted strengths-based management practices. Some of the outcomes achieved by 90% of these organisations are:
- 10% to 19% increase in sales
- 14% to 29% increase in profit
- 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
A manager’s role is not to make employees develop talents that they lack or do not have, but rather it is to recognise and maximise existing talent to their greatest potential.
Great managers appreciate the unique wiring of each individual employee and are able to connect talent to all types of roles, even those easily dismissed as too insignificant to require real talent.
Great managers are able to understand that even back-end roles of finance executives, for example, do require the talent of treating work as more than merely crunching numbers.
While they may be an average in managing figures and statistics, this individual could be exceptionally natural in establishing relationships with others, an ability that may more than make up for their “lack” in financial intelligence.
So, what can great managers do to create talent-driven opportunities for their employees? Here are two simple stepping stones.
Identify and appreciate talents
More often than not, employees are unaware of their individual strengths or might have brushed it off as a competency learnt on-the-job.
It is fairly easy to take one’s precious talents for granted and spend years not knowing how to utilise it.
Great managers are able to identify this disparity and begin deep conversations with their team members to help them embrace their own capabilities and apply them to the job.
Improvise the role and not the skills
Marcus Buckingham clarified this concept perfectly. He said, “Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.
The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable.
You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths.”
“In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves.
Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.”
A great manager should be able to recognise the differences that exist within talent and competencies and help employees bridge the gap between both.
Management today cannot operate business as usual and should generate the efforts needed to diversify and transform roles into something that works for – and not against – their employees.
Conclusion: Focus on strengths while managing weaknesses
Strengths-based management is backed by countless organisational research demonstrating that it is simply a better investment of money, time and effort for your employees.
When employees know that they have the best opportunities to do their best work, the organisation has a better bet in building an excellent workplace culture that contributes to overall productivity and performance. None of this means that managers should avoid conventional training and upskilling programmes.
It just simply means that there is much to be gained from further developing your employee’s strengths and thus avoid the mistake of forcing your employees into something that they are not.
When an employee has the opportunity to do what they do best every day, the outcome is not just high performance but sustainable high performance.
Ashvaani Ramanathan is a senior consultant with Leaderonomics Good Monday. She gets inspired each time her LGM team is able to successfully transform organisations “culturally”. Although culture transformation may seem like rocket science, she believes that every organisation should invest deeply in it if they desire to become globally competitive. To explore a free consultation session with LGM, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org