Think back to Michelle. Her creative choreography may sound like a last resort, anattempt to make the best of a bad hire. Its not. Jeffrey and Genoa are not �mediocreemployees, and capitalizing on each persons uniqueness is a tremendously �powerfultool.First, identifying and capitalizing on each persons uniqueness saves time. No�employee, however talented, is perfectly well-rounded. Michelle could have spentuntold hours coaching Jeffrey and cajoling him into smiling at, making friends with,and remembering the names of customers, but she probably would have seen littleresult for her efforts. Her time was much better spent carving out a role that tookadvantage of Jeffreys natural abilities.�Second, capitalizing on uniqueness makes each person more accountable. Michelledidnt just praise Jeffrey for his ability to execute specific assignments. She �challengedhim to make this ability the cornerstone of his contribution to the store, to takeownership for this ability, to practice it, and to refine it.Third, capitalizing on what is unique about each person builds a stronger sense ofteam, because it creates interdependency. It helps people appreciate one anothers�particular skills and learn that their coworkers can fill in where they are lacking. Inshort, it makes people need one another. The old clichis that theres no I ��� �in team.��But as Michael Jordan once said, There may be no Iin team,but there is in�� ���win.���Finally, when you capitalize on what is unique about each person, you introduce ahealthy degree of disruption into your world. You shuffle existing hierarchies: If Jeffreyis in charge of all resets and revisions in the store, should he now command more orless respect than an assistant manager? You also shuffle existing assumptions aboutwho is allowed to do what: If Jeffrey devises new methods of resetting an aisle,doeshe have to ask permission to try these out, or can he experiment on his own? Andyoushuffle existing beliefs about where the true expertise lies: If Genoa comes up with away of arranging new merchandise that she thinks is more appealing than the methodsuggested by the planogramsent down from Walgreens headquarters, does her��expertise trump the planners back at corporate? These questions will challengeWalgreensorthodoxies and thus will help the company become more inquisitive, �moreintelligent, more vital, and, despite its size, more able to duck and weave intothefuture.All that said, the reason great managers focus on uniqueness isnt just because �it
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makes good business sense. They do it because they cant help it. Like Shelley �andKeats, the nineteenth-century Romantic poets, great managers are fascinated withindividuality for its own sake. Fine shadings of personality, though they may beinvisible to some and frustrating to others, are crystal clear to and highly valued bygreat managers. They could no more ignore these subtleties than ignore their ownneeds and desires. Figuring out what makes people tick is simply in their nature.
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