An average manager might have identified this

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An average manager might have identified this behavior as a weakness and lectured Claudia on how to control her need for information. Judi, however, realized that this weakness was an aspect of Claudia s greatest strength: her analytical mind. Claudia would never be able to rein it in, at least not for long. So Judi looked for a strategy that would honor and support Claudia s need to know, while channeling it more productively. Judi decided to act as Claudia s information partner, and she committed to leaving Claudia a voice mail at the end of each day with a brief update. To make sure nothing fell through the cracks, they set up two live touch base conversations per week. This solution managed Claudia s expectations and assured her that she would get the information she needed, if not exactly when she wanted it, then at least at frequent and predictable intervals. Giving Claudia a partner neutralized the negative manifestations of her strength, allowing her to focus her analytical mind on her work. (Of course, in most cases, the partner would need to be someone other than a manager.) Should the perfect partner prove hard to find, try this third strategy: Insert into the employee s world a technique that helps accomplish through discipline what the person can t accomplish through instinct. I met one very successful screenwriter and director who had struggled with telling other professionals, such as composers and directors of photography, that their work was not up to snuff. So he devised a mental trick: He now imagines what the god of art would want and uses this imaginary entity as a source of strength. In his mind, he no longer imposes his own opinion on his colleagues but rather tells himself (and them) that an authoritative third party has weighed in. If training produces no improvement, if complementary partnering proves impractical, and if no nifty discipline technique can be found, you are going to have to try the fourth and final strategy, which is to rearrange the employee s working world to render his weakness irrelevant, as Michelle Miller did with Jeffrey. This strategy will require of you, first, the creativity to envision a more effective arrangement and, second, the courage to make that arrangement work. But as Michelle s experience revealed, the payoff that may come in the form of increased employee productivity and engagement is well worth it. Trigger good performance. A person s strengths aren t always on display.
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Sometimes they require precise triggering to turn them on. Squeeze the right trigger, and a person will push himself harder and persevere in the face of resistance. Squeeze the wrong one, and the person may well shut down. This can be tricky because triggers come in myriad and mysterious forms. One employee s trigger might be tied to the time of day (he is a night owl, and his strengths only kick in after 3 pm).
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