- by Jason Spainhour
- November 16, 2011
A friend asked me a while back if I could take a look at her computer because it was “acting funny.” She knew I was a “computer person” and assumed that I could help with her issue. It took some time, but I finally figured out what the problem was. I didn’t have to tell her I wasn’t that kind of “computer person” or refer her to someone else.
Oftentimes in business, I think we generalize people’s roles a bit too much. We say, “that’s the IT guy” or “she’s in sales,” and so on. May work for casual conversation, but I think it’s important to recognize that people do tend to develop specializations as they go down their chosen career paths.
In my experiences with leading and working in technical teams, I’ve found the best results can usually be had by letting team members play to their strengths. Not always possible I know, but if a person has an aptitude in a certain area, it just makes good business sense to give them that kind of work and allow them to shine.
This doesn’t imply that we should overlook areas where employees need to improve or give them a “free pass” on certain tasks. We still want to develop competencies with the goal of having well-rounded and productive employees.
It may sound obvious, but haven’t you found that people’s aptitudes typically reflect their likes? By giving them work they’re good at, you’re actually giving them tasks they will enjoy performing. That’s about as close to a win-win situation for an organization and its employees as we’re going to find today.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Part of being a good team leader is understanding each person’s abilities and maximizing the team’s collective abilities in the best possible way. Difficult juggling act at times? Yes. But the outcome can be well worth the effort.
So, the next time my friend has an issue, I should probably just introduce her to another friend who’s a “laptop repair person” instead of trying to fix it myself. We’ll probably all be happier with the results!