Her creative choreography may sound like a last

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Think back to Michelle. Her creative choreography may sound like a last resort, an attempt to make the best of a bad hire. It s not. Jeffrey and Genoa are not mediocre employees, and capitalizing on each person s uniqueness is a tremendously powerful tool. First, identifying and capitalizing on each person s uniqueness saves time. No employee, however talented, is perfectly well-rounded. Michelle could have spent untold hours coaching Jeffrey and cajoling him into smiling at, making friends with, and remembering the names of customers, but she probably would have seen little result for her efforts. Her time was much better spent carving out a role that took advantage of Jeffrey s natural abilities. Second, capitalizing on uniqueness makes each person more accountable. Michelle didn t just praise Jeffrey for his ability to execute specific assignments. She challenged him to make this ability the cornerstone of his contribution to the store, to take ownership for this ability, to practice it, and to refine it. Third, capitalizing on what is unique about each person builds a stronger sense of team, because it creates interdependency. It helps people appreciate one anothers particular skills and learn that their coworkers can fill in where they are lacking. In short, it makes people need one another. The old clich is that there s no I � � in team. But as Michael Jordan once said, There may be no I in team, but there is in � � win. �� Finally, when you capitalize on what is unique about each person, you introduce a healthy degree of disruption into your world. You shuffle existing hierarchies: If Jeffrey is in charge of all resets and revisions in the store, should he now command more or less respect than an assistant manager? You also shuffle existing assumptions about who is allowed to do what: If Jeffrey devises new methods of resetting an aisle, does he have to ask permission to try these out, or can he experiment on his own? And you shuffle existing beliefs about where the true expertise lies: If Genoa comes up with a way of arranging new merchandise that she thinks is more appealing than the method suggested by the planogram sent down from Walgreens headquarters, does her expertise trump the planners back at corporate? These questions will challenge Walgreens orthodoxies and thus will help the company become more inquisitive, more intelligent, more vital, and, despite its size, more able to duck and weave into the future. All that said, the reason great managers focus on uniqueness isn t just because it
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makes good business sense. They do it because they can t help it. Like Shelley and Keats, the nineteenth-century Romantic poets, great managers are fascinated with individuality for its own sake. Fine shadings of personality, though they may be invisible to some and frustrating to others, are crystal clear to and highly valued by great managers. They could no more ignore these subtleties than ignore their own needs and desires. Figuring out what makes people tick is simply in their nature.
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