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 are a manager, or if you work for one, then you would almost certainly be able to list a whole range of actions and activities.
They might include interviewing potential hires, solving problems, dealing with customers, planning, writing reports, 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 who spend a great deal of their time exploring an employee’s performance, looking for some perceived fault or aspect that can 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 cannot make people what they are 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 music collection consists of about six compact discs that I rarely listen to.
If I had attended piano lessons for even more than three years, then I’m sure I could have become competent. However, I would never be any good at playing the piano.
It is a waste of time trying to correct weaknesses that cannot be sorted.
Some people just can’t build relationships with customers, others can’t work as fast as you need them to and others can’t write a report to save their lives (and “certain other people” will never be able to play the piano!).
Your most productive time as a manager should be spent focusing 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 do not do so well.
By focusing 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.