Focusing on Strengths and Not Weaknesses
Tricia is preparing for a performance review meeting with Tom. She’s very happy with his work and sees lots of potential for him to grow further in his role and move up to higher leadership roles. Tom is a strong communicator, good at building relationships, and inspires his direct reports and others to higher teamwork and performance.
Tricia is meticulous about detail, highly organized, and a model of time management. She especially values punctuality. Tom’s desk is a mess, he shows up late for meetings, and his reports are often thrown together at the last minute with details missing. Tricia’s actually a bit puzzled that despite these weaknesses, Tom is the most effective leader on her team.
Tricia starts their discussion by reinforcing Tom’s strengths with lots of recognition and encouragement to continue. She then focuses the majority of their discussion on Tom’s performance improvement plan. Tricia gets him to agree that his biggest improvement opportunity is getting better at time management, personal organization, and paying more attention to detail. Tom’s normally energetic and positive demeanor becomes noticeably subdued as Tricia gives examples of how these weaknesses have frustrated her and others. They finish with an action plan centered on Tom fixing these weaker areas.
In six months from now what is likely the outcome of Tricia’s improvement plan for Tom? How motivated is Tom to stick to this plan? Will moving these weaker areas from weaker to better increase his leadership effectiveness in employee engagement, customer service, teamwork, or motivating others?
What if Tricia had spent most of their performance discussion focused on how to help Tom take his strengths from good to great? And what if she’d had that discussion in the context of ongoing career coaching that linked Tom’s strengths, passions, and organizational needs? Would most of the people Tom’s influencing/leading see past his weaker areas if he became an outstanding communicator, team and relationship builder, and inspiring motivator?
Click on “The Performance Evaluation Meeting — Focusing on Strengths and Not Weaknesses” for my video clip discussing how performance management situations like this can be dramatically improved by focusing on strengths. You can also peruse our Focusing on Strengths section for more blogs, articles, white papers, and videos.