Planning Development based on strengths and stretch
Most managers think of staff training and team development to achieve one of two things:
- to fix someone’s weaknesses
- as a way of grooming somebody for promotion
Although both of these are relevant in their own way, they can leave you and your team wanting.
So here’s an alternative way to approach your team’s development…
Seeing strengths versus fixing faults
It’s all too easy to end up with everybody becoming a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.
Whilst it’s good to cross train your team so you make cover easy, you don’t want to end up everyone mediocre in everything, but expert in nothing.
Imagine what would happen if you were to focus on people’s strengths instead – in the same way you might expect an athlete or members of a football team to hone their skills in areas where they already perform well. You could help them go from a strong performance to real excellence in their areas of greatest ability. How much more motivated would team members be if they could focus on what they’re best at?
Everyone has skills, it’s just that different jobs require different skills. It takes a certain type of skill to organise an hectic event, to calm down an irate customer, to clean a room to a high standard inside 25 minutes.
Often these are skills employees don’t necessarily recognise themselves, as they take these things for granted. When you recognise these strengths it can boost confidence, and often the tasks they’re good at are those they enjoy more, so it helps to keep them engaged.
Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at! But by focusing on individuals’ strengths you can balance your team so they complement potential shortcomings in others, so you can bridge any gaps you have elsewhere.
Stagnate versus stretch
Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you let them stagnate.
We often think of development as grooming people for promotion. This might be one outcome or intention, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of development. Even those who you believe have reached the limits of their capability or have no desire for more responsibility shouldn’t be left to stagnate.
After all, a bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!
Look for opportunities to set new challenges within people’s current responsibilities. How can you add variety or stretch them further in areas where they’re already strong?
– asking them to find ways to make efficiencies or refine a process
– giving them responsibility for training others
– allocating ownership of specific procedures
By giving individuals ownership of particular tasks you create a sense of pride and responsibility.
You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised, and they’re given the authority to apply them.
This can also take the pressure off you as that person then becomes the go to person.
Sadly, it’s often only when people leave that we miss what they bring to the team. (….could that lack of recognition be the very reason they leave?)
Here’s an exercise you can carry out with your team to recognise their strengths to take into account before development planning.
If you only do one thing towards planning development: take a step back and identify one strength – however small – for each one of your team members, and let them know you value this.
Photo credit: alysha-rosly