Ryan Smith of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club has a terrible shot. Im sure hes spent a huge amount of time in his life practicing – maybe even praying for a better shot. Its still not any good. What I like about Smitty is that he was smart enough to realize hed never be a top notch shooter it wasnt his strength. Where his talents lie are in his ability and willingness to go into the tough areas on the ice. So guess where he spends his practice time tipping shots in front of the net, controlling the puck along the boards, figuring out little tricks to give him an advantage without drawing a penalty. Hes made a career of it a successful one.
I bring this up because I sat down with an HR Director last week who said, Tell me my weaknesses and what I can do to improve them. Why are so many people still stuck on this way of thinking? I know we cant ignore our weaknesses but they will forever be a struggle for us. Just think of review time when as managers for the umpteenth time in a row we say you have to learn to delegate more or you need to make decisions stop measuring and cut.
How many of us spend our time working on people that are struggling to be average when there are people on our team that are succeeding with natural ability? Its a little like helping Smitty with his shot everyday after practice rather than spending that type of time with Taylor Hall.
I let the HR Director know my thoughts. I sure hope the message sunk in enough so he stops paying attention to both his own and his staffs' weaknesses and starts developing their potential.
Where do Managers you know spend most their time and effort – on actively feeding the strengths of top performers, or on frantically attempting to fix the ever-present weaknesses of “below average” producers?