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How to Handle Employees Weaknesses

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Published January 3, 2013

employee weaknesses

Think you’ve found the perfect employee? Think again. Nobody’s perfect — not your star programmer. Not even your top sales gal. That’s why you need to focus on building a truly exceptional team of people whose strengths offset each others’ weaknesses.

We see the dynamic over and over again in sports. For instance, a football coach will place a short, quick guy as running back — not on O-line. This player’s capabilities are in running quickly, catching the ball, and heading straight for the end zone while somebody else bulldozes the other players. Coaches harness their players’ strengths to offset their weaknesses.

Managers — you’re coaches, too. Pair employees with complementary strengths and weaknesses to build exceptional teams that completely dominate.

1. Focus on Strengths

If you fixate on weaknesses, you’ll get bogged down. You hired your team for a reason — everybody’s good at something. Everybody possesses amazing strengths. Let your employees do what they do best.

Your job as a manager should be to encourage growth and skill-building. Give more project ideas to creative-types and more responsibility to the industriously minded. Position these complementary types together for dynamite results.

2. Design Around Weaknesses

Weaknesses are inevitable, and if you’re not prepared for them, you’ll be blindsided. As a manager, you can’t just look the other way. You can’t be a jerk about it either. What you need to do is build structure — fit the job to the people and the people to the job.

For instance, many think of low stress tolerance as a potential weakness. Rather than blaming the employee for inherent personality traits, be constructive. Come at him with only constructive criticism and avoid pointing the finger. Prepare him for pressure-filled situations by keeping him as informed as possible.

3. Provide Snippets of Feedback

Stop waiting for performance review season to provide feedback to your employees. Training — both formal and informal — should be a continuous part of the job. Provide employees access to resources and courses for continuous self improvement. Have a shy employee that you want to groom for a better position? Connect her with a class like Toastmasters to boost her confidence. Continual feedback for improvement benefits everyone.

Always be constructive, and always be future-minded. Your job as a manager should be to give employees the resources that they need to succeed.

4. Lead by Example

…And choose your leaders wisely. Not all managers are good leaders, nor are all good leaders good managers — so make sure that you’re setting a good example in the best possible way that you know how.

Be self-disciplined. If one employee’s weakness is to always show up late, then make sure that you are always on time to set the tone of what you want. If another employee does not know how to pitch the media — and it is a requirement of her job — show how you or a team member has successfully done it in the past.

Make sure that you promote managers who are in the best position to lead. Too often, managers make the mistake of saying ‘hey, since Bob is our best sales guy, we should promote him to sales manager.’ But does Bob have the skills to successfully manage a team? Being great at your job does not necessarily make you a great leader.

5. Embrace Open Communication

This may seem obvious, but there’s more to it than you may think. It’s very easy to have open communication about positive issues, but often the negative topics are neglected until they become disruptive.

Also, it’s one thing to have open communication between managers and their employees, but your organization needs more — there needs to be a culture of open communication throughout your company.

Do whatever you need to do to make this happen. Host regular team building activities. Make your employees feel appreciated. No matter what, it’s very important to create an environment where employees handle their day to day issues and are completely comfortable discussing future possibilities. The best way to deal with and overcome concerns is to talk about them.

Positivity is everything. Instead of creating an environment based on fear and discipline, you need to help your employee be the best that they can be. Great attitudes build healthy businesses which in turn, yield strong profits. Your employees, with all of their strengths and weaknesses, mean everything to your bottom line.

How do you deal with your employee weaknesses? What have you overcome to create a stronger workforce?

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