Wouldn’t it be grand if we could predict the behavior of people the same way we can predict system behavior? How often does what you are trying to accomplish appear straight forward but the people get in the way? I don’t know about you but for me, it’s a daily occurrence and I wouldn’t have it any other way. People with their unique talents, unique approaches are what makes everything we do have value. The real challenge is to accept that uniqueness and make it work. In the book, First Break All The Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman unveil a different approach to thinking about people. That, we, as managers often use the word competency to encompass skills, knowledge and talent. In fact, these are very different things and should be viewed separately. They postulate that the approach of having people “work on” competencies where they are weakest is flawed.
I can’t play basketball, never could. I could be given the best coach, play 12 hours a day and I may improve to become a poor player at best. That’s because I have absolutely no talent for it. We work with talented people everyday. But often, we force them into trying to improve in areas where they simply do not have any talent. We may be able to improve their performance marginally, but, just like me and basketball, it will be mediocre at best. So, what do we do instead?
Why not discover what people are really good at and have them do more of it in the context of their roles in the organization? Why not think of partnerships where individual strengths can complement each other? What are you really great at? How can you take that strength and apply it in a way that helps you do your job more effectively, helps you set the path to being not just good but great?
People aren’t perfect – but I wouldn’t want them to be.