“Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton write in “Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense: Benefitting from Evidence Based Management” (2006) that many success stories – in medicine, sports, politics – point not to a leader or genius, but the power of the team. Pfeffer and Sutton explain that talent is not completely fixed or predetermined. Talent depends on a person’s motivation and experience. Talent depends on how a person is managed or led. Talent depends more on effort and having access to the right information and support, rather than natural ability. They state, “Natural talent is overrated.” It’s not about the best; it’s about the team.I am curious why, when our organizations are struggling, we are quick to identify employees’ weaknesses rather than first analyze our own work cultures and systems.”
In my opinion, that really says it all. Why are organizations so quick to focus on employees’ “weaknesses” rather than examining the bigger picture? In my opinion, it could be because the person “on top” is not totally competent for their role. I think this is a question of “management” versus “leadership”. If the top-level professional is always looking to blame team issues on his/her employees, to me it seems like the problem comes from the top. And as the article states, this person is most likely not viewing their staff as a team. Focusing on “weaknesses” can also be a way for the manager to place blame on the employees under them. Each person is certainly responsible for his/her own workload, but the manager needs to remember that part of his/her job is … wait for it … managing! Although everyone is responsible for their own duties, it is up to the manager to make sure that their staff runs like a well-oiled machine. And as the article states, the way to do that is to foster team-building rather essentially breaking the team down by focusing only on the “weaknesses”.
I think a huge part of this is also being able to offer criticism in a constructive way. The employees should feel empowered and that they are being listened to. I think that is also a big key to fostering a team environment.
What have your experiences been working as an employee and/or a manager? I look forward to your feedback.