People - You Cant Make Them What Theyre Not

Many business people and managers are spending too much time trying to change the underperforming people who work for them. They seem to believe that if they train people - tell them what to do or even threaten them with the sack - then the performance level will go up.

The successful manager concentrates on developing the strengths of his team members - not trying to correct their weaknesses. Sometimes you have to manage around a weakness, but you can't make people what they're not.

Some years ago I decided to improve my golf by taking some lessons. A friend and I spent some hours with a professional golfer and coach at a local country club. This was really useful to me and I did get better. However my friend Robin hadn't a clue. No matter what the pro told him to do, how to change his stance and his grip, he could hardly hit the ball.

If you'd given Robin a hundred lessons and threatened him with a gun, I doubt if he'd ever have completed a round of golf in less than two days. Robin is a successful lawyer and makes a lot of money, however a golfer - he is not.

So if you have a sales person on your team who isn't bringing in the sales or a production engineer who isn't making his quota, then you have to make a decision. Is this person not producing because they don't have the ability - because they need more training or - because there's another reason?

You can read more about coaching and other reasons for non performance in my book - "How to get more Sales by Motivating your Team" but for the moment it's important to understand that the individual may not be able to do the job.

They may tell you they can do the job because they're unwilling to accept defeat; however I've known people in sales jobs who shouldn't be in sales and doctors, plumbers, lawyers and engineers who were also in the wrong job.

What you need to do is get people who can't do the job into a job that they can do or get them out of your team.

I joined three companies as a manager and in each case I inherited team members who didn't have what it takes to do the job. I'd usually find three categories of people in the teams - The first group were the 'good guys,' the ones I knew could do the job and wouldn't give me any hassle.

The second group consisted of people who needed a bit of looking after, watching closely and definitely some coaching.

The third group were the ones didn't have either the skills or the characteristics to do the job and no amount of training, or anything I could do, would change that. I would often find that these people, due to their lack of success, weren't exactly happy in the job anyway and were sometimes only too pleased to be transferred to another position.

I hear you saying - "easier said than done Alan" and you're right. But the successful manager needs to address these issues for the good of the team and the business.

The successful manager concentrates on strengths not weaknesses. It's vital to give your people feedback on their strengths and also on their weaknesses. However these should only be weaknesses that you know the individual can do something about.

It's a waste of your time and effort trying to sort weaknesses that can't 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 life.

Your most productive time as a manager will be spent giving feedback on strengths and how to develop these even further. Many managers spend the majority of their time with team members trying to resolve weaknesses. They then don't have the time or sometimes the capability to give feedback on strengths.

Discover how you can generate more business by motivating your team! Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales by Motivating Your Team" This book is packed with practical things you can do to get the best out of your people . Click here now

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