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Manage to people’s strength

Ben Cattaneo says manage to people’s strengths, rather than their weaknesses. In this short video, he explains how that starts with the recruitment process.

“The most effective way I’ve found to develop talent in teams is to manage to people’s strengths”.

We have this culture of trying to make everyone perfect in every area, and I think that’s wrong. Not everyone is going to be perfect in every single area of a 360 review – and we go through these reviews in a lot of organisations – and we zero in on people’s weaknesses, and we ask them to develop their weaknesses. I don’t think that’s very helpful, because what happens is people focus on areas that waste a lot of energy on things that don’t add a lot of value.

I’ve had people in my teams that are, for instance, very strong technically but maybe less so on the customer side or the stakeholder management side. And I’ve had people that are the opposite.

The recruitment process is crucial

When you’re bringing people into your team and you have some idea of what you need. I think a straightforward interview or even a case study doesn’t always cut it.

If the job entails writing, get them to write things as part of the recruitment process. Or if you’re going to ask them to make presentations, get them to do that. Give them a little bit of a test around what it is you’re asking them to do, so you have a sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are.

It’s one thing to have them talk in through the interview process, but you might just get someone who’s very good at answering questions in an interview! That’s great, but that may not give you what you’re looking for. Getting that right, getting people that are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses is a very important step.

I’ve seen a lot of managers bring people onboard based on individuals who are very polished and can answer specific types of questions. But how do they respond in the moment? I think the lesson is to manage the diversity of your team and put people in the right positions.

If you have a good idea of what you need overall as a whole, if you’re thinking holistically of what the team is trying to achieve, then it’s a matter of putting the individual parts to where they’re best suited.”

This is an edited version of this Clear Lesson – watch the video for the full story.

About Ben Cattaneo

Ben Cattaneo is the Chief Risk Advisor, Group Functions, BT Group.

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