Let me ask you a simple question; what do you believe a manager’s job is all about? What is it that managers do on a day to day basis?
Now, if you’re a manager, or you probably work for one, then you’d almost certainly be able to list a whole range of actions and activities. They might include: interviewing, solving problems, dealing with customers, planning, report writing, analysing data, dealing with complaints and hopefully, leading and motivating the people who report to them.
Many managers seem to believe that, over and above these activities, the prime function of their job is to identify weaknesses in members of their team, and resolve them. In other words, they relentlessly focus on the negative aspects of an employee’s job. They do this, at worst, by criticising, and reprimanding or, at best, by coaching or training.
I am aware of managers that spend a great deal of their time exploring an employee’s performance looking for some perceived fault or aspect that could be improved. Parents often focus on the negative aspects of a child’s school report rather than the positive.
Too many managers are spending too much time trying to change people.
They seem to believe that if they train people, tell them what to do or even threaten them with disciplinary action or the sack, then they can get them to change.
The successful manager concentrates on developing the strengths of their team members, not trying to correct their weaknesses. Sometimes you have to manage around a weakness, but you can’t make people what they’re not.
When I was a teenager, my father sent me for piano lessons for about three years. He was determined that I would learn to play the piano. To this day I cannot play a note. I realise now, as an adult, that I am just not musical. Strange as it may seem, I’m not particularly interested in music. My CD collection consists of about 6 CD’s which I rarely listen to. If I had attended piano lessons for even more years then I’m sure I could have become competent, however, I would never be any good at playing the piano.
It’s a waste of time trying to correct weaknesses that can’t be sorted. Some people just can’t build relationships with customers, others can’t work as fast as you need them to, others can’t write a report to save their life, (and ‘certain other people’ will never be able to play the piano).
Your most productive time as a manager will be spent focussing on strengths and how to develop these further. If you give people feedback on what they do well; then it is often the case that there is an improvement in what they don’t do so well. By focussing on the positives, they feel more motivated to improve the negative aspects of their performance.
So there you have it; whether in your business or personal life, focus on the positive aspects of other people, not on the negatives.
Remember: People have one thing in common; they are all different.
About the author
Article by Alan Fairweather, International Speaker and the author of, 'How to be a Motivational Manager, ‘How to Manage Difficult People' and ‘How to Make Sales When You Don't like Selling'. Visit: www.themotivationdoctor.com, for more information.