Working with strength and weakness

Introduction

Do a search online for “people’s strengths and weaknesses” and you’ll get a deluge of advice that tends to throw more weight at dealing with weakness than fostering strength. This post briefly adds to the deluge, but turns that approach on its head.

Strength > weakness

As individuals, we often get hung up on weaknesses, both our own and of those around us. There seems to be an unrealistic expectation, especially in technology, that we should be experts at every level of the stack.

This expectation is not helped by less tech-savvy friends and family.

You work in IT, can you fix my house alarm?-Dad

It is also not helped by colleagues who are more knowledgeable than us, but don’t know how to mentor. And it is most certainly not helped by working environments that are clueless how to address weakness and end up creating teams of mediocre generalists.

Everybody has the potential to be great at something. It is quite heartbreaking to think that the vast majority of people who never find that thing or at best never really get to develop it to their full potential, fail because of an unproductive focus on their weaknesses rather than their strengths.

Weakness

Often, this is self-inflicted by people who beat themselves up for not being great at everything they put their mind to. It is also down to external factors not nurturing people’s strengths and rather than counter their weaknesses by balancing them across a team, choose to focus on them, again, an often unproductive path.

Teams > individuals

The key to dealing with weakness (and conversely strength) is to build teams that complement each other, based on a number of key factors:

  • Manager’s/leader’s ability
  • Company’s hiring process
  • Candidates honesty on CV/in interview as to what their strengths and weaknesses really are

The first two points refer to how good the workplace skills and processes are to firstly determine the existing strengths and weaknesses in the teams and what strengths would both complement them and the future strategy of the business.

The third point is something I’ve not heard discussed much due to a get the job at any cost attitude but as somebody who has been in a hiring manager role previously, I’ve seen CVs come across my desk which simply beggar belief. People claiming to be a mythical unicorn in terms of skills and experience and when they’ve come in for interview, they’ve not been able to back up the claims under a modicum of pressure.

If you land yourself a role by being overly economical with the truth regarding your skill set, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at some point, you are going to be expected to carry out tasks which fall in to your “weakness zone”. You need to be prepared when that time comes, one way or the other.

Summary

As individuals, I think people would be far more productive if they focused more on their strengths than weaknesses. Sure, address those weaknesses that are holding you back in your chosen path, but if you work in the right team, in the right company, the balance of the team should allow you to flourish regardless.

Companies take note too. The best teams have members who have roles that play to their strengths, those combined strengths blending together to negate any key weaknesses across the team

Till the next time.

 

Please let me know your thoughts!