Retention of key talent is a primary concern for organisations. It’s all well and good to focus your efforts on ‘star performers’. In addition, remember to include those ‘normal’ performers who are equally critical for the success of any change effort.
We each have a natural propensity to perform well when the environment is supportive of that. So, it’s important to ensure management take the time to discover their employees’ strong suit as well as their shortcomings.
I recall being impressed by a friend’s youngest. He made matter of fact statements about what he excelled at in school and what he wasn’t so good at. He would say simply “I’m really good at cricket and maths” and “I don’t do so well at English”. Good on him, I thought for knowing himself so well and being comfortable owning that. I admired him for being honest. And yet the reaction of some of the other parents was interesting. They thought he was precocious. Whereas to me, he was simply telling it as it is.
I wonder whether this youngster will have discarded that openness by the time he enters the work place. Employees tend not to sing about their strengths for fear of coming across as boastful or even arrogant. And management, in particular avoid owning their weaknesses because they fear being seen as vulnerable or weak.
Sometimes employees who acknowledge their weaknesses over-inflate them. They can come up with a list as long as your arm. And then they beat themselves up because they can’t do everything single-handedly and to the same standard.
On the other hand, managers can be just as good at exaggerating their strengths. It’s human nature to think we’re better than we are. And that problem is more prevalent the higher up the corporate ladder we go. Do you work with someone who has an exhaustive list of strengths that trip off the tongue in numbers? And yet they’re unable to think of a single weakness. That’s a problem for those who have to work alongside them! Moreover, it will likely derail their career at some point down the line.
Business professionals are accustomed to performance reviews. And part of that process is for the appraisee to identify areas for development. Approached in the right way it is reasonable to think of these as representing the biggest potential for growth and improvement.
So, create a climate where colleagues are encouraged to acknowledge and respect each other’s strengths and support one another to minimise so called weaknesses. Employee productivity across the board will increase dramatically and that can only be good for business.