Effective managers focus on their employees’ strengths
Each of us is abundantly endowed with weaknesses and failings. Effective managers have just as many as everyone else. The difference is that effective managers are willing to ignore individual weaknesses, including their own, and focus instead on bringing out employees’ strengths.
Focus on the positive: An effective manager concentrates on what people can do, not what they can’t, as the criterion for success. This is no easy task, especially in a society that emphasizes performance reviews and appraisal forms that point out people’s failings. The effective manager must learn that employees are paid to perform and not to please their superiors. The manager should ask “What does this employee contribute?” – not “How does this employee get along with me?”
Set up for success: An effective manager has to set up an employee to succeed, not to fail. Do not assign jobs that are impossible, or jobs that require a superhuman genius. Unfortunately, it is common for managers to dole out such jobs. Perhaps the job was formerly undertaken by someone truly unusual. No replacement can ever measure up, and he or she shouldn’t be expected to do so.
Any job that defeats two or three people who up until then have performed well in other jobs should be assumed unfit for human beings and redesigned. In order for an employee to be successful, however, the job assigned must be demanding enough and big enough. We are not talking about assigning an “impossible” job, but rather one that makes the employee rise to meet challenges without being swamped. It should have scope and space enough to allow the employee to show his or her strengths. This is especially important for new employees so they can discover their capabilities. If the job is too easy, a talent may perish from boredom.
Strengths vs. weaknesses: Sometimes an effective manager will have to put up with weaknesses to bring out strengths. If an employee is conceited, does it hinder his performance? If the weakness is irrelevant, suffer through it. If the strengths and contributions overshadow the weakness, then live with it. When you have zeroed in on the strengths of your employees, you are now in a position to enhance those strengths.
Try to concentrate on assigning jobs that match the strengths of your individual employees. If one employee writes great speeches and another is fantastic at presentations, let them focus on the areas in which they excel.
Set your employees up to succeed, not to fail. People have enough chances to fail on their own. As an effective manager, you can assist your employees in bypassing these possibilities for failure. Help your employees grow and ultimately you strengthen your company and your own position.