As we get into senior year with Andrew, we have been talking more and more about what we want him to get out of going to college. He knows he wants to go, and has a rough idea of what for, but doesn’t have it all planned out. I am of the mindset that you are not supposed to have it all figured out at 17. Heck, it’s hard to have it all figured out at 27 or 37 or even 47!
Now, take that to the work place. Look around at your team. Do you think they all have it all figured out? Yes there’s Bill that is driven to get to the top. And there’s Julie who is a great team player. Oh, and of course Tom who we are just lucky to keep focused long enough to finish the task at hand.
Have you ever thought about what you are teaching your employees?
At one point in my management career, I followed the advice of teaching my team to be well-rounded. We would go through their experiences and figured out where they were light, or lacking, and then focus to build up those areas. For example, there was a team member that had not built many relationships outside of our team. We came up with a plan to get him involved in other projects and meetings that would allow him to grow in that area.
Over time, I learned that there is a better way to manage. Focus on people’s individual strengths and capitalize on those. Wow, what a difference that made! Take the employee from above and instead of focusing on building relationships (which it turns out he despised) and instead focus on learning extremely complex technical solutions. He was 100 times happier with that challenge, than forcing himself to build in his weak area. The team benefited from his knowledge and ability to teach us quickly what he had learned.
Back to what are you teaching your employees…
Are you teaching them to focus on what they are good at? If not, give it a try. With Andrew we keep talking about his past successes in school projects, sports, or in his employment history. Instead of trying to pick an exact job that he wants when he grows up, we are trying to focus on what he is good at and enjoys.
How do you feel when you work in your zone?
I love it when I get to teach, inspire, and help people work well with others. My energy is high, my focus is laser sharp, and I can blast through “work” at warp speed. On the flip side, when I focus on something I don’t enjoy like managing my expenses, somehow it can take me all day to enter my receipts, I feel drained, bored and extremely uninspired.
With your team, find a balance of the good and the bad. There is merit in bringing up lower skills, but not necessarily at the expense of never getting to work in where you excel. One of my clients said the other day that he is not an office manager, and if his leadership focused on how clean his office was, he would fail every time. But, if they focus on his results, he is a superstar.
Over the next week, try to focus on teaching each of your team members work in their zone. See what the results are. Then figure out how to manage working that in on a regular basis.
What is your “zone”? What’s your favorite thing to work on? Post below or post on Facebook!