Each member of any team should be “cast” in a role that takes full advantage of their talents.
In my previous post, I talked about the importance of having each team member know what’s expected of them and how that contributes to the team vision. But today, I ask another question – does what we expect of our team members align with their strengths?
The premise of Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman’s First, Break All The Rules is that the key to work engagement is whether the work aligns with the individual’s strengths and talents. The manager’s main role, therefore, is to focus on each employee’s unique strengths and find ways to make it fit with their work.
The theory goes that you have far more potential within your strengths than your weaknesses. Often within organizations we complete employee reviews on a regular basis. Most often these reviews are designed to identify weaknesses and to help people “fix” them. However, you will have far more benefit from focusing on strengths than weaknesses.
In Summit’s Strengths Finder workshop we discuss the fact that in your areas of weakness, regardless of how much training and focus you place on them, you do not have a natural ability in this area and will only improve so much. We often say you want to focus on your areas of weakness just enough so that they are not a liability, but do not waste more time here.
It is in your areas of natural ability, your strengths, that you have the greatest potential for growth. This is a muscle that through exercise can become very strong.
Although Buckingham and Coffman don’t explicitly talk about teams frequently in their book, this idea has huge implications for teams.
When leading a team, it’s not enough to just make sure they know what’s expected of them. The leader needs to tailor his/her expectations of each employee to their individual strengths and talents. They need to cast each member of the team in roles that fit them.
The first step for any leader, therefore, should always be to identify each employee’s strengths. This will require you to be deliberate and observant – according to Buckingham and Coffman, the surest way to identify someone’s talent is to watch his or her behaviour over time.
Then, you’ll have to step back and consider who’s in a role within a team that takes full advantage of their talents, and who is simply miscast. With this information, it is then the leader’s responsibility to move the team member into a role that better fits their strengths.
When each team member is in a team role with expectations that align with their talents, the full potential of the team can be unleashed.
Casting is everything.