I believe many businesses are sitting on a potential untapped goldmine.
Most managers think of team development to achieve one of two things:
- to fix someone’s weaknesses
- as a way of grooming somebody for promotion
Fixing faults v seeing strengths
Rather than making everyone mediocre in everything by trying to fix weaknesses, by focusing on people’s strengths we’re able to tap into opportunities to enable a person to really excel.
If you think about a football team or an athlete they work on honing their skills in the areas in which they already perform well. A football team where everyone is trained to be a striker, goalie and a midfielder is unlikely to go places. Instead the focus is put on where they are already strong so that they can excel in those positions.
Look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. Focusing on strengths not only boosts confidence, it enables people to shine and excel. It means complementing potential shortcomings of others in the team, contributing unique value in the eyes of colleagues and customers. And in most cases the tasks we’re good at we enjoy more, excite us and keep us engaged.
Stagnate v stretch
Grooming for promotion might be one intention or outcome for development, but even when we know that a team member has probably reached their peak, or we know full well they are not interested in progressing; it doesn’t mean to say we let them stagnate.
A bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!
So look for opportunities to stretch team members within the current responsibilities or in areas where they’re already strong. Maybe give them responsibility for training others in that area, giving them ownership over the procedures, looking for ways to make efficiencies or refine a process or improve that task. By giving individual team members ownership over particular tasks we create a sense of pride and responsibility. And with this comes the desire to get things right.
When they have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised and they’re given the authority and autonomy to apply them. This can take the pressure off you as this person then becomes the go to person instead of you.
Most businesses I talk to are blissfully unaware of the potential goldmine sitting right in front of them within their team.
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