How do we get our teams to perform?
This is a question we get asked almost every day in our practice.
It’s one of the highest priorities of every CEO, chairman leader, manager and even coach.
Unsurprisingly, there is really no simple answer!
In our management framework, we work through twelve principles that we have successfully used over the last twenty years to deliver outstanding performance both in business and in sport.
It’s our unique version of ‘money ball’ – a sometimes over-used trendy term these days.
One of these twelve, focuses on ‘Maximising Strengths’.
The principle was first mooted almost sixty-five years ago by management guru Peter Drucker in his book The Practice of Management (1955).
“One should never be appointed to a managerial position if one’s vision focuses on people’s weaknesses rather than on their strengths,” he wrote.
Later, in his 1967 book The Effective Executive, he explored his position further: “To make strengths productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant.”
For the challenge every organisation or team faces is to make common people achieve uncommon performance.
“To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths — the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities”, Drucker wrote. “The role of an organisation is to maximise the strength of each individual and make weakness irrelevant”.
1. Maximising Strengths
In our experience, maximising strengths is more than just working through a comprehensive strengths and weaknesses matrix. Whilst it is terribly important, it’s just the beginning.
What are the key strengths of each person? What makes them unique? How does it compare to others? These are all key questions to be considered.
2. Setting the baseline
Whilst focusing on strengths and maximising them has been well proven, an important part of this exercise is to clearly define the acceptable baseline for weaknesses.
The fact is that strong people will always also have a significant weakness.
A manager must ensure that those weaknesses can be accommodated. If not, regardless of how strong or valuable a person may be, their inclusion could affect the performance and success of others.
3. Complementary Strengths
Critical to performance is the manager’s responsibility to complement any individual weakness through the others in the team or organisation.
For example, if you have an excellent salesperson who has a particular weakness with say paperwork, it pays not only to have that person work to their strengths and spend as much time doing what they are good at, but to support that individual with a suitable colleague to complement them to fulfil the administrative work.
4. Understanding the Person
‘You don’t hire a hand, the whole person comes to work’ is an old adage that has stood the test of time for good reason.
Regrettably, many managers and organisations do not pay enough attention to this most critical duty.
Understanding the human being refers to developing a deep knowledge of who they are. It starts with recognising their personality traits. There are numerous tools and assessments available to accomplish this. Only then can we meaningfully engage with them.
Is someone a deep thinker requiring time to process information; or are they easily distracted? The former would need to be explained the ‘game plan’ the night before whilst a pre-game briefing would best suit the latter.
5. Communication Preferences
Closely related to understanding the person, is clarifying their communication preferences. At its most basic, we all have a preferred modality – auditory, visual or kinaesthetic. Understanding this and incorporating it into the interactions can be extremely powerful. Are they a writer or a reader? Do they prefer a conversation instead of an email or text?
Frequency is another important consideration: there are those who like to be in constant or regular communication, whilst others require just the occastional chat.
6. Recognition & Rewards
Finally, there is the ongoing need to recognise and reward performance. Whilst this may be obvious on face value, each person is unique in how they want this to be.
Some prefer public recognition, whilst others are more private. Money is mistakenly considered the universal reward. It is not! Flexible hours, or remote working may be more important to some.
These are just six of the key areas that comprise what we term ‘Maximise Strengths’. It must be used in context with our other 11 factors to be truly effective.
If you’d like to employ this proven framework in your organisation, we’d love to be of assistance.
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