“What Great Managers Do” (Chapter 2), “The First Key: Select for Talent” (Chapter 3)
In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to dive into the role of a manager and discuss how the great ones are able to select for talent. Buckingham and Coffman believe, and I am in agreement, that great managers are ultimately the glue that holds a business together.
Managers are responsible for getting the most out of their employees. Buckingham and Coffman define managers as those who are responsible for looking inward in order to help a company and its employees find and release talents. They state, “the manager role is to reach inside each employee and release his unique talents into performance. A manager must be able to do four activities extremely well: select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, and develop the person.”
Each person is motivated differently. Skills, knowledge and talents are distinct elements of a person’s performance. Skills and knowledge can be taught, talent cannot. Skills are capabilities that can be transferred from one individual to another, similar to the concept of the traditional instructor-pupil learning model. Knowledge is what you are aware of. Factual knowledge is what you know to be true, and experiential knowledge is what you have grown to understand through life experiences.
Great managers define talent as “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” You cannot teach talent. Experience, brainpower, and willpower are great qualities, but they are not necessarily talents. Talent is more about what drives a person, how he thinks, and how he builds relationships. There are three fundamental types of talents: striving, thinking, and relating. Striving talents explain the WHY of a person. Thinking talents explain the HOW of a person. Relating talents explain the WHO of a person.
The best way to help an employee cultivate his talents is to find him a role that plays to those talents. Don’t spend time trying to fix their weaknesses, spend time enhancing their strengths. Try to match one’s talent to a role. Don’t waste your time trying to mold someone to fit a specific role out of necessity. Buckingham and Coffman make a great point when they state, “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.”
I believe that the most empowering feeling for an employee is knowing that he/she is utilizing his/her talents for the betterment of a business and its clients. For me, I have found that sense of empowerment working in the fitness industry. I have realized that I have a genuine passion and motivation for motivating and supporting people along their fitness journey because I understand the value that fitness can bring into one’s life. I feel as though I can empathize and connect with many different people to help them realize that they are capable of more than they think. It makes “work” not feel like work.
So with that, I ask you to reflect on your talents. Do you know what they are? Remember that talents are different from learned skills or knowledge. They are unique traits that you have that cannot be taught. Does the work or job that you are currently doing align with your talents? If not, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your situation and find a way to optimize the unique talents you possess.