Eliminating the weakest link

The management practice of maximising an individual’s strengths and making their weaknesses irrelevant is rightfully becoming widespread these days.

However, this will only be successful if weaknesses are above a certain acceptable level. A person with a speaking difficulty or hearing impediment will not make a good telephone receptionist. Similarly, as discussed earlier, one’s strength must be useful, a competitive advantage and add value to the organisation.

Attention to the organisation’s areas of weakness is just as important.

Weaknesses in organisations, unlike in individuals, cannot be ignored. They can undermine the entire operation, its products, services or customer experience.

There is an important distinction between an individual’s weakness and the weakness of an organisation. Organisation’s weaknesses – be it a person or process – must be rectified as soon as possible, those of a particular individual can be minimised.

As an example, the experience of a patron at an event, despite all the planning preparation and processes can be affected by the inefficiencies of the person at the entrance collecting tickets. Similarly, even the most reputable restaurant can be undermined by an unhelpful wait staff or a rickety table.

Finding these weak links with process or people can best be done by engaging in the customer experience, seeking constant feedback and working in various roles in the business.

I have personally found the last to be the most insightful, despite being the most time consuming. The outside-in perspective of any role in an organisation can be quite valuable.

Going on line to buy from your own store, looking for information on your website, working at the reception desk or the store-front are all useful exercises for a manager to conduct – not just once off, but on a regular basis – to ensure there are no weak links.

For even the best ideas, strategies and good works can come undone by one person or process that under performs.

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