It’s important to identify and address weaknesses in individuals in order to build a strong, cohesive team that can succeed.
Recognizing individual strengths and weaknesses within a team helps to create balance, ultimately leading to a great, successful team. As a manager leading a team of nine, I have learned how to identify weaknesses within my team members and address them in order to build a strong, cohesive team. There are several steps you can take to identify and address weaknesses to hopefully turn them into strengths over time.
Step 1: When bringing on new team members, I generally start by managing and training them in the same manner, then modify the training as we move forward based upon my observations of the individual’s strengths and challenges. Each person learns differently, and it is important to adapt one’s management approach in order to support the individual’s success.
Step 2: Identify the individual’s weakness, and be specific. In the recruiting industry, these challenges may range from business development to technical understanding of the specific industry in which we work. In general, some of the more common weaknesses that can show up in otherwise strong team members can be anything from lack of follow up to a team member who gets bogged down in the mundane tasks rather than dedicating the time to the strategic items on their his or her to do list. Whatever the weaknesses of the people you manage may be, understanding them and developing a strategy for overcoming them is key to combating these issues.
Step 3: Address the weakness. In a constructive manner, sit down with the individual and discuss your observation of the challenge. Talk through the area in which he or she needs to improve. Provide mentoring on how to further develop work-arounds to ensure these weaknesses do not inhibit their day to day work, and a specific action plan he or she can follow order to further develop and eventually overcome these areas they may be falling short. Also, leverage their particular strengths to compensate or mitigate areas that may need improvement.
Step 4: Observe how he or she reacts to and implements the direction provided. In most cases, people are able to rise to the challenge and get ahead of the learning curve. Unfortunately, in others, it may be possible that they do not possess the capability or the will to do what is necessary to overcome their challenge in order to succeed in their role. In such incidences, it’s important to recognize this and take appropriate action. While it’s difficult to make such decisions, it’s in the best interest of the employee and the team. After providing the individual with appropriate opportunity to improve, if improvement does not occur, it is best to let the employee move on to find the career path that is best suited to his or her skill set. It is also best for the team as a whole not to retain a significant under-performer.
Overcoming a weakness often requires persistence and consistency on the part of the manager and the employee. It is extremely rewarding to see improvement over time. For instance, one recruiter on my team was very strong in developing relationships with job seekers looking for a career move, but joined the team without prior experience developing new business with clients. I worked with this individual, providing appropriate guidance. As a result of a consistent focus on coaching and strengthening this area of his daily work routine, I have seen a sustained change over time. This recruiter is now demonstrating solid movement in the right direction and has attained more balance with much stronger business development effort and results. This has not only benefited the recruiter; it has also benefited our entire team.
Identifying weaknesses is a skill that all managers should develop and continue to build upon in order to have a thriving, successful team. Have you had employees who lacked a specific skill and were able to turn their weaknesses into strong suits? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.