Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern in clients who feel frustrated with their employees. Unbeknownst to them, their expectations are often unreasonable. They expect their employees to perform their jobs with a particular style, quality, and timeline – comparable with their own. They want their employees to do their work as well as they would. This seems reasonable, but is often unrealistic, because people vary in both skills and problem solving strategies.
Have you found yourself in this position?
Interestingly, though, that’s not the major stumbling block. The deeper problem manifests if you don’t recognize that your own stellar performance is due to your personal and professional strengths.
Focusing on Weaknesses & Minimizing Strengths
Over and over, I watch the brightest people I know make the same mistake: they take their own strengths completely for granted. Without even realizing it, they assume that anyone can do what they do, the way they do it. It follows then, that any employee who doesn’t follow through in the same way is being lazy, ignorant, or insubordinate.
Worse yet, though these clients may not recognize (or give themselves credit for) their own strengths, they are exceedingly aware of their own weaknesses. There is no balance in this equation and, eventually, that one-sided self-view leads to frustration, stress, and overwhelm. It’s easy to become frustrated with yourself when you’re focusing on your weaknesses and ignoring your strengths. It’s just as easy to get frustrated with employees when you assume that your skill set is everyone’s skill set.
Any of this sound familiar?
I love watching a client’s light bulb moment when she realizes that she has strengths that are worthy of credit and that her employees are actually trying to please. Employees have their own strengths that can be capitalized upon, once noted.
Would you like to have that experience?
There are several ways at it, but here’s one one approach to delving into your strengths and their impact.
7 Step Process for Exploration and Development of Values & Strengths*
1. Take a few minutes to fill out the brief and free “Values In Action” (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths.
2. Examine the results and take a moment to appreciate yourself. How often do you do that? Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
3. The next time you have a period when you’ve been working at your best (when you’ve been “in the zone”), take a few minutes to consider how that looked and felt. Write out a description.
4. Look back at your signature strengths and determine which were involved in the experience you just described. How did you feel before using your signature strengths? After? In the moment?
5. Over the next two weeks, focus on two of your signature strengths and try to use them in new ways in your professional life.
6. Reflect on the positive consequences of using your signature strengths in your business.
7. Revel in all that you bring to the equation for a bit, before returning to your never-ending to-do list.
What to Expect
I can practically guarantee that this exercise will refresh your thinking – something like rebooting your computer. It will flush your system of toxic self-evaluations as well as confusion about your employees’ intentions. Your passion for your business is likely to be elevated – or revived.
You might want to ask your employees to take the VIA as well. You can then work together to tap into their strengths on the job.
* Adapted from the research of Jacques Forest and colleagues at the Université du Québec à Montréal