If It’s Not the Swivel Chair: Managing Weaknesses

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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I looked away. This scene had a predictable ending, and I didn't want to witness it. Today I have the advantage of parenting years behind me. If that mother wanted to know, I could share what I finally learned after too many bouts of my own impatience with small children: most acts of "rebellion" have straightforward causes like hunger, fatigue, or a situation that expects more than a child can handle developmentally. Things don't change much as we grow older. If an employee performs inadequately or inappropriately, a manager should look first to what Buckingham and Coffman term "mechanics issues." Like the child's hunger and sleepiness, these are simple things, though not always easy to solve... 1. lack of tools or information 2. personal causes (at home, between employees, or even between manager and employee) In the case that an employee's performance can't be traced to either one of these causes, Buckingham and Coffman recommend only three possible courses of action to deal with what must then be understood as an employee weakness, at least for that particular job... 1. devise a support system; for instance, the chronic poor speller could always do a spell check 2. find a complementary partner; responsibilities can be shared and shifted between employees 3. find an alternative role; this is a last-ditch choice, but should be considered if a manager spends all her time managing around the employee's weakness Each of these alternatives could require some real creative thinking and maybe a bit of heartache. But ultimately they could prevent the professional equivalent of shaking an employee too hard by shoulders— a situation that, in the end, produces its own kind of predictable pain we may not want to witness. Side Mirrors photo by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by L.L. Barkat, author of God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us, as the last in a series on the book First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. Previous Posts in This Series The Business of Playing Favorites Do the Job Your Way Find the Gifts, Forget the Faults Your "Yes" Means Money to Your Company