Has not been shown to be a predictor of any of these

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has not been shown to be a predictor of any of these outcomes, and in some cases, it appears to retard them. Great managers seem to understand this instinctively. They know that their job is not to arm each employee with a dispassionately accurate understanding of the limits of her strengths and the liabilities of her weaknesses but to reinforce her self- assurance. That s why great managers focus on strengths. When a person succeeds, the great manager doesn t praise her hard work. Even if there s some exaggeration in the statement, he tells her that she succeeded because she has become so good at deploying her specific strengths. This, the manager knows, will strengthen the employee s self-assurance and make her more optimistic and more resilient in the face of challenges to come. The focus-on-strengths approach might create in the employee a modicum of overconfidence, but great managers mitigate this by emphasizing the size and the difficulty of the employee s goals. They know that their primary objective is to create in each employee a specific state of mind: one that includes a realistic assessment of the difficulty of the obstacle ahead but an unrealistically optimistic belief in her ability to overcome it. And what if the employee fails? Assuming the failure is not attributable to factors beyond her control, always explain failure as a lack of effort, even if this is only partially accurate. This will obscure self-doubt and give her something to work on as she faces up to the next challenge. Repeated failure, of course, may indicate weakness where a role requires strength. In such cases, there are four approaches for overcoming weaknesses. If the problem amounts to a lack of skill or knowledge, that s easy to solve: Simply offer the relevant training, allow some time for the employee to incorporate the new skills, and look for signs of improvement. If her performance doesn t get better, you ll know that the reason she s struggling is because she is missing certain talents, a deficit no amount of skill or knowledge training is likely to fix. You ll have to find a way to manage around this weakness and neutralize it. Which brings us to the second strategy for overcoming an employee weakness. Can you find her a partner, someone whose talents are strong in precisely the areas where hers are weak? Here s how this strategy can look in action. As vice president of merchandising for the women s clothing retailer Ann Taylor, Judi Langley found that tensions were rising between her and one of her merchandising managers, Claudia (not her real name), whose analytical mind and intense nature created an overpowering
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need to know. If Claudia learned of something before Judi had a chance to review it with her, she would become deeply frustrated. Given the speed with which decisions were made, and given Judi s busy schedule, this happened frequently. Judi was concerned that Claudia s irritation was unsettling the whole product team, not to mention earning the employee a reputation as a malcontent.
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