1) Fix an employee’s weakness so that they become more well-rounded
2) Focus on an employee’s strength so that they become more specialized
Which one would you choose?
The Gallup Organization interviewed over 80,000 managers in 2,500 business units and found that great managers who out-perform their peers chose the second answer.
The answer makes a lot of sense if you think about it. If your business has a superstar in each of marketing, finance, operations, service, etc., your whole team will fit nicely together and be able to produce some great results. On the other hand, if you just have a bunch of average staff who each can do a bit of marketing, finance, operation, etc., then you’ll only get average results.
On a more individual level, the research argues that individuals who don’t have an inherited talent for a specific area (ie. their weakness) can never achieve excellence in that area. Fixing it will only push it to a more acceptable level. Rather, if you spend the same amount of time developing their potential and nurturing their strength, the outcome will be far more impressive.
More simply, you cannot expect Mozart to become Einstein by fixing his weakness in science. At most, he might become an average scientist, but you’ll distract him from becoming a great musician.
Another question, “should you play favorites with your employees?”
The answer that great managers give is inside this book.
Siobhan Hitchmough is a customer advocate, community manager and part-time tutorial wrangler. When she's not seeking out new challenges she leads the community and support team at inFlow Inventory.