Build a High Performance Team
While out on the beach, I laid out a plan. After listing the people in order by respect, I drew two columns.
The first column was labeled, Weaknesses. This column can get very long, very quickly because we notice weaknesses first and then tend to concentrate on them. You might ask, "Why write down all those negative things?" This list will become a map through the minefield.
I labeled other column Strengths. Then I stared at the blank column: it was as though I had writer’s block. Perhaps I hated to admit this person had any strengths. But she was the most respected person in the office: she had to have strengths. I forced myself to concentrate on her strengths: mathematical ability, loyalty to the company, a good sense of humor, an appreciation for the finer things in life, and so on.
Things I wouldn’t have necessarily associated with strengths on the job began to add up. I began to realize the things that made a person strong as a whole were strengths he or she could apply on the job. My focus then shifted from the long list of weaknesses to the long list of strengths just beside it within each person. The old dog was learning a new trick.
Once I realized how many strengths this woman had, strengths that weren’t being recognized or put to use in our organization, I was bursting with enthusiasm to talk to her strengths the next time I had the chance. She immediately noticed I was enthusiastic about her potential. I reflected back to her the things she felt were important and valuable. What she thought and felt became my priorities; I would no longer impose my priorities.
We can transplant hearts and other vital organs from one person to another, but we can’t transplant strengths. Managers try every day––and the operations have never been successful. Our job, therefore, is to be a catalyst between their strengths and the way we'd like to see the job done. You’ll keep adding to both lists over time.
Do not leave these lists around the office. This is an exercise for you alone. Keep your lists at home. Each evening, take a few minutes to pick a couple of team members from your chart to connect with individually the next day in a coaching session. Select one or two strengths from each person’s lists that you help them to use more in some part of their jobs.
Here are some ways to get started:
Begin with the most respected member of your team: This person is the most influential.
Make two lists for each person: Put weaknesses in one column and strengths in the other. The second list will be more difficult because of the long-term propensity to focus on weaknesses.
Lay out a coaching strategy for each person: Based the plan on your awareness of his or her weaknesses, but emphasize strengths.
"Be aware of their weaknesses, but talk to their strengths."