In a small company, or any place with a small number of staff, you often have to wear a lot of hats. When I look back at our start up days, I’m surprised at the many roles I played. I could have done accounting, cast an artifact replica, and designed exhibits all in one day. Those were the days when design was completed at the kitchen table, accounting and marketing in the spare bedroom, and a lot of production in the garage. One of the advantages of growing a company is each individual can eventually concentrate on their strengths. Unfortunately, this did take us a long time to learn. Even after having a larger staff, I would assign an artistic person to project management. The logic was, “well, they know our business and can explain it well to our clients.” They were never happy in these roles and what fun is that? Yet, my mantra was we all have to do what we have to do. Jason reminded me at one point I even got rid of everyone’s titles. I didn’t want to hear “that’s not my job.” Well, in reality, I still don’t want to hear that. To a degree we still have to jump in where needed. Yet, mostly we focus on what our individual strengths are.
In the book Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath it talks of a world revolving around fixing people’s weaknesses. What they discovered after much research is people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths. If you do not focus on what you do best in your job it is likely you are not emotionally engaged. If you have the opportunity to grow your natural talent adding skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix you are more likely to be very successful.
Many people don’t really know what their natural talent is and we do have certain stereotypes we believe fit certain roles best. I would generally think that a sales related role would best be filled by an outgoing highly social person. This is not true at Taylor Studios. Drew can be reserved and quiet spoken, yet is awesome at solving potential client problems and making recommendations. He is also detailed oriented and enjoys creating the best spreadsheets we have ever known. Additionally, we do have artists that run departments as they have leadership traits that help them do that well.
It may not be good to spend your time fixated on improving your weaknesses as the time is better spent on your strengths. However, it is good to be aware of your weaknesses and to find work arounds. You may still be expected to perform in your weak areas. Maybe you can delegate, create systems, or rely on others to help you perform better in your weak areas.
Have you ever been in a job that did not play to your strengths? Have you assigned staff to a job that wasn’t their strength?