Are You Leveraging Your and Your Staff’s Strengths?

Most of the companies and businesses focus on improving their employee’s weaknesses.

I should know, I worked in a large corporation where each fiscal year we would have a performance review where I had to write my yearly accomplishments as well as my areas for improvement.

Of course, “areas for improvement” means to write down whatever you are not doing particularly well and the company wants you to improve.

Now my question is this: Nobody is perfect. There is no one single employee who can excel in all areas (yes including the CEO’s of the companies), so instead of losing perfectly good time and energy trying to improve something that you suck at, why don’t they focus on promoting for you to improve what you do best?

I don’t know if Picasso was really good keeping his books or Bill Gates is able to empathize with a sad person, but you know what? I don’t care and you shouldn’t either.

We should just care that Pablo Picasso was able to create amazing paintings and spent his live improving his painting skills while Bill Gates has incredible business skills that now applies into helping people to fight diseases.

The point that I tried to make is that if somebody was forcing Picasso to improve his accounting skills or Bill Gates to improve his interpersonal skills, it would’ve been probably a waste of time. None of them would become great at it and it would’ve detracted them from became better at what they do best.

The same applies to your employees. When you hire people to work at your restaurant, don’t try to hire all your employees with the same skills. Of course, servers and hostess need to have good social skills and be people friendly since they will be facing your customers, but perhaps is more important for your bussers to be detail oriented and for your Chef creative (even if he doesn’t like shaking your clients hands).

But these are the basics, then each one of your employees probably has special abilities that can help you improve your business. For example, I know the case of a waiter who was an incredible sales person but quite sloppy at cleaning and organizing the tables silverware and china. This restaurant was small and sometimes didn’t have a busser to do this job. The owner of the restaurant didn’t appreciate that and fired him because the rest of the waiters were complaining that he didn’t do his job after the customers were gone.

Now, you can hire bussers for the minimum wage. Wouldn’t be better to pay few hours to a busser to clean after this waiter, and give the waiter a commission for extra sales instead? He was excellent at selling but not a very organized person so the owner of the restaurant tried (and failed) to make him work in his weakness instead of filling his gap with somebody else and freeing him of his duties cleaning to focus his energy on cleaning.

Same thing with other skills. I bet that if you are hiring young people you have some of them with computer or technical skills. Are you leveraging them? Or are you paying somebody else to do a job that your own staff can do for just a few extra dollars an hour?

Try to leverage your strengths and your people’s by giving you and them assignments where they can excel, not only they will be happier, but your place will escalate to a higher level of performance and satisfaction.

This by the way is an excellent method as well when you hire new people. Try to hire people who complement (and not overlap or compete) the skills that you already have available in house.

Happy leveraging,

Jose L Riesco

©Riesco Consulting Inc.

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